Monthly Archives: April 2012

Running In The Rain

By Jeanie, Reinventing Mommy

I’ve made some changes over the past couple of weeks. I’m spending more time on my writing, trying to make some things happen.

I’ve also gotten my hair cut, a move that the majority of my family may or may not approve of once they see it. It actually aged me a bit, which is good, because I’m a lot older than I look. And yes, I’m typing that with a smile. I know I’ll appreciate my “baby face” when I’m in my 60s.

It had been a while since my hair was this short, since the days at my 9 to 5. Once Jack was born and throwing up all over me on a daily basis, I figured that no hair cut could hide the vomit stains on my clothes and the sour milk smell that hung heavy in the air around my person.

Ironically enough, I think that Jack is really confused by it. For example, take this exchange from when I picked him up at school yesterday:

Me: “Hi, Jack!”
Jack: No response, no eye contact.
Me: Trying to prompt him – “Jack says, ‘Hi, Mmmm…'”
Jack: “Hi, Ms. (his private OT’s name)!”
Me: “Nope, I’m not Ms. (OT). Try again. Jack says, ‘Hi, Mmmm….'”
Jack: “Hi, Ms. (his preschool teacher’s name)!”
Me: “No, I’m not Ms. (preschool teacher). Jack says, ‘Hi, Mommy!'”

To which Jack looked at me for the first time in this whole exchange, with a look that said, To hell you say! You’re not MY Mommy!
Yeah, that wasn’t my intent by making changes.

Ultimately, I’ve decided that I needed to do some things for me – to make me happy. I need to discover who I am and what I like and want out of my life.

As a means of getting to that goal, I’ve started running again. I used to run when I was younger. Really, my neighborhood is the perfect place to run. It is very hilly around where I live, but my neighborhood sits on a rare oasis of perfectly flat ground. The main street actually loops around the neighborhood, serving almost as a track, if you wish.

I had not gone running since before I got pregnant with Jack, which was in 2008. Once Jack was born, he always had so many needs that it seemed like running was more of a hassle. I thought about getting a treadmill, but they’re just so damned expensive.

That and I far prefer to run outdoors. I like the feeling of the wind on my face. I like the fresh air and the smells of the grass, the various blooms of the season, and the smell of rain as it is coming in.

Much to my neighbors’ confusion, the time you will always see me running is in the rain. I adore running in the rain. As long as there is no thunder and lightning, I don’t let a little thing like precipitation get in my way. I love feeling the rain roll down my skin. I love the slight chill as the wind lashes against my wet skin. I love the solitude, the peace, of the rain. It is so cleansing, as though the rain just washes away all of your cares, your concerns, and your fears.

I can do some of my best thinking in the rain. I basically write out a piece in my head while running. It gives me a chance to really examine myself. What do I like? What do I want? These are questions I’ve never really asked myself, but I feel like I should after all of these years of being so concerned by the answers others would give. Now, I actually am starting to care about what I have to say.

I’m probably happier now than I have been in years…and yes, that’s with an autistic child. He has a long way to go, but he’s made great progress and I feel like we’ve got the right combination of therapies with the right therapists and we will continue to see progress as he continues to work with them in the years to come. I feel confidence in that. I have proven to myself multiple times that I – and I alone – can fight for Jack and make things happen for him. That has been so empowering. I am doing some things just for myself that make me feel good.

You may look at Jack and some of the issues I deal with on a daily basis and feel either sympathy or sadness, but don’t. I’m at a point where autism is just a “normal” part of my life and, even though some days are harder than others, for the most part I just deal with things as they come and make the accommodations I need for him. Sure, it sucks at times when I see what he can’t do (evaluation time comes to mind), but then I remember how far he’s come.

And I helped get him there.

It’s the same with running in the rain. You might look at me out of your window and think, That poor woman! She’s soaked! She must be miserable! However, if you looked at my face, you’d see a smile as I think about how far I’ve come.


Jeanie is a former engineer turned stay-at-home wife and mom to an amazing 3-year old little boy on the autism spectrum. After her only child was diagnosed at 24-months with autism and an alphabet soup of special needs, she began to write about life parenting a very young child with special needs with honesty, optimism, and as always, a touch of humor. You can find Jeanie at her regular blog, Reinventing Mommy (

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.


Leave a comment

Filed under Remembering to Breathe, Taking the next step

Donning My Mask

by Terri, It’s A Wonderful Life: The Power of One

Okay, I don’t mean to sound like a bragger, but if I’m going to anyway I figured this is the right place to do it! Where to begin? First let me say that I’m sharing this very personal information because I feel like I think many of my hero blogger’s must, that if even one other person can see themselves in this post, and it motivates or encourages them to take better care of themselves or not feel so isolated in their journey, than it is worth it. So here we go…

In November, I decided something in my life needed to change, what could I control, as I was spinning out of control? I decided it was finally time to ask for help, just like Jess at Diary of a Mom talked about in her blog post Avalanche at in January.

And let me tell you:


(And yes, I want to scream it from the mountain top!) So, here I am on the mountain top, or as close as I can get for today.

I know there are people that think medications are over used, and in some cases they are; but when used appropriately, they can be life changing, if not life saving. I wasn’t sure at first how to ask for help, because I wasn’t really depressed, and I wasn’t really anxious, I was just really, really, really stressed. I figured, “well, there’s no pill for stress so I guess I just have to suck it up” and I did, for a really long time, until finally all that “sucking” started oozing out of every pore of my being, and quite simply I began to suck. I was irritable, agitated with everyone for even the smallest reason, in fact, I had no concept of the “small stuff” not to sweat, because nothing was small to me. I describe it as having no gauge for big or little insults or transgressions. My irritability shifted from once being only aimed at ignorant strangers who were inconsiderate of others, to those that I loved and were my safe harbor; first my husband, and then slowly to my children. I knew that I had a great life, but I certainly wasn’t acting like it. My wonderful husband, whom I am madly in love with summed it up best, when he said in the most loving way possible, “you were always mean to everyone else, but now you’re mean to me too.” That and hearing myself snap at my adorable 2 & 4 year old sons, who were in all honesty just doing their jobs being really good at being 2 & 4, bit by bit I seemed to lose every bit of patience I had prided myself on as having as a really good mom. Yes I have a child with Autism, this is to be expected right? Wrong. Man was I wrong.

Prior to having children I always said, “I’m just a b&*ch, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to be my friend” and trust me, I didn’t have a lot of friends, but my husband always loved me, even though I’m sure he thought I was losing it at times. For me to hear my best friend say I was being mean to him now too, hurt and shocked me into change. I married my husband because I love him more than anything, not because I wanted to have children. I never wanted children to change “us” (spoken like a person who had never been married with children before). And slowly after the last 5 years of having two difficult pregnancies, then infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers, one of them with Autism, “we” had in fact changed because I had changed.

My husband looked at me one night and said “why are you so miserable, aren’t you happy?” I was so sad. I was happy damn it! What was he talking about? I’m just really stressed! Gosh, how COULD YOU ASK ME THAT! Sounds pretty happy, right? OMG, what is wrong with me? Cue, November 2011, asking for help.

I saw a wonderful psychiatrist who said, you know what? You have some type of mood thing, this is NOT JUST WHO YOU ARE, this is not just your personality, you are not just a b*&ch. With proper medication and therapy you can be HAPPY. That is when my life changed.

Fast forward 6 months later. Tuesday, April 10th, sitting in Panera enjoying a sandwich by myself. Lots of therapy has proven to me in fact – I am not just a b*&ch! I had a lot of stress and a biologically based chemical imbalance in my brain. I’m not crazy, I was just unbalanced. Now with the help of an appropriate dose of the SSRI that works for me, and lots of therapy, and the support of the most amazing husband, friend and children, I can honestly say:

I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.

Did you read that? Yes, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. Those of you who know me, know that means change, true change & commitment to it. I never knew that I could be happier than when I married my best friend, or when I had not one, but two perfect little boys, but guess what? I could, and I am! I am so happy, I want everyone to feel this way. I don’t want anyone to waste another moment stressing over the small stuff that they aren’t even capable of identifying as small. I am excited for the opportunity to have friends, and for people to like me because I’m happy & nice and not overwhelmed by my life. I put my oxygen mask on, and I breathed it in, slowly at first, one small pill, one hour of therapy every Tuesday evening. Then it was as simple as emptying my hot water heater. What do I mean? I took a shower so long that I used all the hot water. When was the last time I did that? Then it snowballed, and every day it got a little easier to take care of myself too.

Every Tuesday evening after therapy I went on a date with myself. I did something just for me. All alone. Can you imagine? I’d go to the bathroom alone, read a book, sit by the fireplace at Panera, browse the dollar aisle at Target, whatever I wanted, all by myself. Since then I’ve graduated, I’m feeling so good, I have such little to report at therapy besides happiness, that I go every three weeks now. But guess what? Every Tuesday night I still go on a date with myself. Occasionally I let someone join me, maybe a new friend. Maybe you, as I sit here typing this. The joy has been contagious, I’ve spread it willingly, lovingly, without resentment; my husband dates himself every Thursday and I’m confident he is happier too because of it.

After 8 years of marriage, and two wonderful sons, I can say with all sincerity that I am the luckiest woman in the world. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I feel like my marriage has never been more solid, that I have never been a better wife, friend or mother, and I am a better person for putting on my mask, emptying my water heater and asking for help. I never knew, I never knew, I could be so happy & my sincere hope is that you will be too. See you on Tuesday – I’ll be the one sitting by the fireplace, with the content, satisfied, fulfilled look on my face, I hope you’ll join me.


Terri can be found at and says: Because I made the conscious choice to don my oxygen mask first, I am a better wife than ever to my amazing husband & partner, and also mother to my two wonderfully, amazing boys, one of whom has PDD-NOS on the Autism Spectrum.  When I’m not busy during the week running my boys around from school, to school, to therapy and back, I spend my weekends caring for others’ loved ones as a psychiatric nurse.  I am busy, and worn down at times, but I am also happy and determined that I will make a difference, not only in the lives of those that I love, but also for others who need a voice.  I believe in the power of one; one person can make a difference.  This is my attempt to do that…one person at a time.
Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.
When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?
    –It’s a Wonderful Life–

Leave a comment

Filed under Remembering to Breathe, Taking the next step

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

by Alysia, Try Defying Gravity

The Mary Poppins Game

I’m going to call this: “The Mary Poppins Game”.

It came to me in the shower this morning.  All my good ideas come to me in the shower.  It’s also where I cry, but I digress…

It has been a very long week here.  My kids were on spring break and although the weather was lovely, we were all just out of sorts.  My kids needed me night and day.  That’s not just an expression this time.  There was not one night this week when all three kids slept through the night in their own beds.  We didn’t do anything very vacation-y either – my husband still had to work and therapy appointments and piano lessons and baseball games went on as planned.

I. Am. Tired.

So, this morning, in the first real shower I’ve had all week, I had this idea.  The Mary Poppins Game.

Let’s pretend that Mary Poppins floated down from the sky at 6am and said “I’m here to take care of your kids for 24 hours.  Go.  Do something for you.”

What would you do?

Now, I know you.  You will say something along the lines of “well, even Mary Poppins couldn’t take care of my kids.  They have very specific needs : feeding tubes and therapy sessions and toileting problems and sleep issues.  And they have soccer games and lacrosse practice and piano lessons and if you don’t cut their sandwich into the perfect four triangles they won’t eat it and for goodness sake don’t let them eat anything with any food dyes or we’ll pay for it for days!”

Did you know that Mary Poppins is an ABA certified occupational therapist/registered nurse/nutritionist/physical education teacher/musician/chauffeur/chef?  She is.


Let’s hear it.

Your perfect day.  From sunrise to sunrise.  Let your imagination run.  You can do anything you want in those 24 hours.

As long as it’s for you.

Tell us all your perfect day here in the comments.  Let us live your day with you.

To get things going (and because it’s my idea) I’ll start:

First, I would go back to bed.  Until I woke up on my own – not by alarm or by crying over the baby monitor.  Next, a long shower when I actually wash my hair.  I’ll put on one of the many Glee episodes that I have on the DVR and watch while I got dressed.  Then, out to the diner for a cup of coffee and Eggs Florentine.  I’ll bring my iPad to catch up on my Draw Something games and order a second cup.  Next, a drive over to the bookstore, belting out a little Adele with the windows down.

I’ll buy a new book and head down to our local beach with a lawn chair.  I would sit in the sun and read.  Maybe I’ll fall asleep.  Nope, I’ll definitely fall asleep.

I know a trip to our local outlet shopping area would be next.  I would actually try clothes on in the store and pick out a new outfit.  Have a chicken salad sandwich on toast and an iced tea.

I’ll return back home and drive over to our town baseball field to watch my oldest play ball.  Yes, this is still for me.  I have yet to see him pitch or stay long enough at a game to cheer him on from the bench.  I want to sit with the other mothers and chat and gossip and jump up and down when my son gets a hit.

I’ll bring him home, tell him how proud I was of him out there, and then take my husband out for dinner.  In my new clothes.

I’ll have a glass of wine.  Or two.

And I’ll smile and laugh and hold his hand.

I’ll get home, actually change into real pajamas (not just passing out in my clothes), and fall asleep without worrying about the pile of laundry in the corner or the dirty dishes in the sink because they would be gone.  I won’t think about which kid will be up in the middle of the night because Mary will take care of it for me.

I’ll sleep peacefully for the first time in ten years.

And I’ll feel like me again.


So?  Who will play The Mary Poppins Game with me?  Tell me what you would do with a whole day just for you?


Alysia is a stay-at-home mom to three young boys, two with autism spectrum disorder.  She writes about that and other things at her personal blog Try Defying Gravity.  She’s also the managing editor of the SPD Blogger Network, a group blog for parents with children living with sensory processing disorder.  She’s so happy to have found this home here at The Oxygen Mask Project along with her friend Shannon.  (And yes, the idea for The Oxygen Mask Project was also hatched in the shower.)


Filed under Remembering to Breathe

The Respite Requirement

by Hartley, Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys

I have been a special needs mom now for nearly 10 years. That sounds much more impressive than it is mostly because when my oldest was young, I didn’t believe I was a special needs mom, let alone have the guts to say it. The only thing I really would admit to was that parenting my son was challenging.

Ok not just challenging, but demanding, and unusually exhausting. Which made me feel like an utter failure. I remember having conversations with my husband where I was in tears saying I needed help with everything from the kids to the housework, where I tried to explain how I could be so overwhelmed after a day at home ‘just’ taking care of the kids and running errands. He never understood why I wasn’t giving Mary Poppins a run for her money and reminded me often that it was ME who wanted to be a stay at home mom. He was right  –  I did want to be a SAHM  –  but I never expected it to be so unbelievably hard, and I sure didn’t expect to be so bad at it.

I watched friends and neighbors parent their kids and it seemed like it was effortless for them. Packing up their toddlers and babies and heading to grab lunch with their friends at a restaurant, or heading over to watch the city parade on a whim, or strapping their little ones into a double stroller and hitting the mall to do some shoe shopping. How did they manage that?! Back then I didn’t really understand how incredibly different my life was from theirs. I hadn’t adopted the term ’special needs’ for my boys, or me and I sure didn’t think about respite. Perhaps I was even opposed to it. That somehow my need for a break only confirmed how much I sucked at parenting.

Fast forward a few years, add two more boys to the mix and a handful of diagnostic acronyms, and the picture was a tad clearer: I am a special needs mom.

And with that term came permission for me to acknowledge how much time and energy went into all of the logistics of having a special needs child(ren), not to mention the emotional worry and constant planning for their future that sneaks into your conscious thoughts (alongside the awareness that the future is completely out of your control) and the daily grind of everything from making peanut butter sandwiches with only creamy Jiff, on white bread, with the crusts cut off and cut into four perfect rectangles (or be forced to throw it away and start over) or going through social stories and preparing impromptu visual schedules just to make an unplanned trip to the grocery store. Why wouldn’t I be exhausted? Exhaustion should’ve been a given. Which means respite should’ve been too.

Parenting a child that has special needs requires you to be ‘on’ every day  –  all day. This is not for pansies  –  this is no meet-your-girlfriends-at-the-park-for-coffee type of parenting. This is 100% emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding of everything you have, every minute of every day and it never lets up. Like I said, exhaustion is a given, and respite should be too.

My kids are difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys and wouldn’t trade them for anything, but the truth is, most days, I need a break. Some time when I am not calling the doctor, or filling out another assessment form, or running to the pharmacy, or planning what to cook, or washing the ‘right’ clothes for morning, or picking up Legos, or whatever. And other days? Other days I think running away to Mexico is a good idea, because maybe they won’t find me and my wine-serving taco truck on the beach and drag me home.

Years ago I felt guilty for wanting a break. Not anymore. I still get exhausted, overwhelmed and worn out because I am parenting in a high-demand, insanely busy world, where my ‘bosses’ are three small boys who could not have higher expectations of me. But now I know Mary Poppins has got nothing on me.

So long as I get my respite time, and lots of it. It is a requirement of my sanity and my ability to perform my job. I have to find time to regroup, unwind, de-stress and generally NOT have to be ‘on’.

And after 10 years of this intense parenting stuff, I have learned that needing respite time doesn’t mean I am bad at parenting, it means I am GOOD at it.

You are too.

This was originally published on the SPD Foundation’s Blog  – head over there are read the other amazing posts from great SPD moms and dads!


Hartley Steiner lives in the Seattle area with her three sons. She is the award winning author of the SPD Children’s book This is Gabriel Making Sense of School with a 2nd Edition to be released April 2012, and Sensational Journeys (available now at as well as the founder of the SPD Blogger Network ( She is a contributing writer for the SPD Foundation’s blog, S.I. Focus Magazine and Autism Spectrum Quarterly, among dozens of other online websites and blogs. You can find her chronicling the never ending chaos that is her life on the blog Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys ( and on Twitter as @ParentingSPD. When she isn’t writing, or dealing with a meltdown, she enjoys spending time in the company of other adults preferably with good food and even better wine.


Filed under Remembering to Breathe

#yearoftheoxygenmask or I Ran Away For The Weekend

by J, Mom To Boy Wonder

Because I can’t take care of the 3 maniacs if I can’t take care of myself.
Because the last 6 months nearly broke me.
Because the years are short but the days are long especially when you are a special needs mama.
Because I have things going on that are difficult that I can’t share just yet.
Because I could, I ran away for the weekend and sat by the pool with my lovely wonderful friend. 
I needed it. I feel like I can draw a deep breath and I’m ready for whatever 2012 is going to throw my way.
2012 is the Year Of The Oxygen Mask Project. Do something for you. I did and it feels really really good.


Mom to Boy Wonder has 3 small children who range in ages from 2 to 6 years old. Her son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. She is returning to school in order to become an advocate for other special needs parents. In November 2011 she ran the ING NYC Marathon in support of Autism Speaks and is already signed up to run again it again this year.  In her spare time, she blogs about life as a self-described Autism Mama, and enjoys reading, learning about wines, traveling, her kids’ nap times and watching television that is not Dora the Explorer. Her deepest belief is that you do not know what you are capable of until you try.
This post originally appeared on her blog HERE and republished with her permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Remembering to Breathe, Taking the next step

My adversary

by Sheonad, Touch & Tickle

There are signs everywhere you look – road signs, shop signs, café signs – they convey  information and can only be thought of as a sign if we attach meaning to them.  They tell us which way to go, where to have a coffee and, sometimes, that we may be unwell.  Yes, there may be signs if we are unwell…

Signs can be medical and objective, being noticed by others and detected by GPs, but perhaps missed by us.  If you think about it, a sign isn’t a sign when we cannot read it or don’t understand it.  Sometimes we are blind to what is closest to us.  I missed my signs – I thought they were the sign of a busy life – and didn’t stop to read them, missing their meaning.

There may signs – known as symptoms – that hint at the existence of something undesirable, like illness for example. Symptoms can be physical or mental and are subjective evidence of a person’s condition.  Again, I ignored mine, too busy – or unwell?  – To know better. I did see them, peeking round the corner, but hid away from them, thinking that I was doing so well, thinking that they were all part of my “normal”, choosing to ignore them.

Over four short weeks, they were there, showing themselves, nagging at me, taunting me.  A few more tears here and there; a temper short and frayed which found me shouting at the girls; the lack of concentration and motivation; a sadness which hovered over me no matter what; feelings of inadequacy and an inability to cope; an exhaustion so deep and dark that I thought I would never get out of it; and the overwhelming sensation that, no matter what, life was hopeless.

For goodness sake!  How could I be so blind?  There was a history; there were triggers evident; this had not come out of nowhere: I had post-natal depression after Eilidh was born and her diagnosis with SMA was a huge blow and a life changing event.  Why didn’t I see it coming?  I could have stopped the downward spiral…  I could have stopped it from getting worse.

Amazingly I actually thought I was coping with my life rather well: a working mum of 2, living an unfamiliar life with a disabled child and managing somehow to make it wonderful. How naive of me!   I realise now that it was more of an “I’m OK. I’m doing a really good job of pretending that I’m ok, so please don’t interrupt my performance.”

And then one morning last week, I woke up and realised that it wasn’t a bad dream, that the symptoms were real and that my life – real, raw and laid open in front of me – was hurting. I couldn’t bare it any longer; it was too much and I broke down.  My tears fell and my heart ripped open once more.  I thought that I had beaten you – my adversary, my depression – when in fact you stand beside me, a symbiosis: you are here.


A curly haired, sophisticated country girl with a taste for exquisite gin, Sheonad is a medic, a mum, and a dab hand at photography, knitting baby hats and sparkly leg warmers.  She lives in Scotland with two crazy beautiful girls and a very sensible, loving husband.  She is currently living an unfamiliar life with a disabled child who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and managing somehow to make it wonderful, despite wanting to wake up and realise it was all a bad dream.  She doesn’t hide from the truth so take her straight without ice, and knock back a glass of the good stuff.

This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.  Part two of this post appears HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Remembering to Breathe

Taking A Break

by Di, The Bright Side of Life!

We all know that April is big in the autism community. For us in South Africa, April also means school holidays and long weekends, which makes for a very topsy turvy month! My birthday is in April, although it is a bit of a non event in my house! For my husband, April brings the extra challenge of running the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town.

Funnily enough, my birthday, the marathon and the expiry of my RDI subscription all fall on the same day!

Anyway, for the month of April, I have decided to give myself a birthday present!

I am going to take a break!

Obviously I am not giving myself a break from autism, so to speak! That would be rather silly considering that my child has autism and I certainly can’t ignore him! 🙂

Why am I taking a break?  I am tired, so tired of trying my best, so tired of trying to be Super Mum. I am tired of wearing my sensible big girl undies. I am tired of trying hard to maintain a balance. I admit it, more time and energy is put into my child with special needs than into me or the rest of the family. So, for the month of April I am going to tilt that balance in the opposite direction………

I am also going to give myself permission to NOT FEEL GUILTY if I don’t give my child 100%….. Oops, that sounds a bit far fetched, but I am sure that you catch my drift!

I am not going to think about assignments, interactions and engagement. I am not going to think about following through on the O.T, Physio and SLT homework. In fact, I am going to try really hard not to think about any type of intervention.

If my child wants to eat Spaghetti Bolognaise (loaded with lentils and carrots!) every night during April, well then, so be it! If my boy wants to hop into my bed to watch a bit of TV in the early hours of the morning (not before 6am though!) I think I may join him. 

I am giving myself permission to take a break and not feel guilty about it!

In fact, I am going to be a very chilled mum woman from the first day of April right up until the very last day of April!

I also think that Nick is going to love having a relaxed mum!  I may have a little battle on my hands when May comes around and we commence with the whole routine again! 🙂

Oh yeah, I am also going to Cape Town for a long weekend with the Hubs and Teenager. Can’t let the man run a marathon and not be there to catch him at the finish line. I wish we could take Nick with us; however, there are going to be too many people, too many social functions and too many changes ~ I know that he will be much happier staying at home!

I am giving myself permission to take a break and not feel guilty about it!

Gidday, I am a kiwi girl living in South Africa. I have one husband and two sons that keep me on my toes – Allan (the bald one!) Thomas, who is a typical teenager (although more of an academic than a party boy!). Nick, the boy who has thrown our life inside and out, up and down…. Nick has autism with co-occurring issues!! All in all, our life to date has been very interesting!!
This post was originally published HERE and used with permission.


Filed under Remembering to Breathe, Taking the next step