“Uncertainty is one of the primary human fears,” Teal Swan
By Keri Bowers
Being constant as it is, the world around us is always in cyclical flux; transition; expansion; growth; change and sadly, demise and destruction all at once. We bear witness to a lot of stress and challenge, especially in these times of instant gratification, technology, economic uncertainty, and horrific news that bombards us daily. It’s easy to fall into the abyss of fear, anger, apathy and sadness about our present and futures. And though we are all in this thing called life together, our feelings and experiences about the present and future are as different as day is to night.
After turning the page from 2016 to a new year, like many of us, I’m eager for a fresh start. I’m determined to have a new year filled with possibility, less stress, more connectivity, and exciting new challenges. At the same time, the empath in me feels literal body pain over what is to come in our global futures; that is, the unknowable. Being in fear, however, is not conducive to creating the best possible future for ourselves ~ individually or collectively.
So, what can we do about letting go of fear and welcoming in the new?
Recently, I listened to a vlog interview with Teal Swan and Lee Harris.
A powerful exchange, the discussion helped me explore and interpret my feelings and thoughts about love, life, family, work and letting go of things I do not want in my life ~ and in letting go of things I have no control over. While listening to the deeper meaning of what I was hearing, I was able to suspend what (I think) I know, to explore new thoughts and ideas about the new year I want to create.
An important take-away for me was a statement about people who are struggling. In effect, Teal said that when we are needing – or forced – to let go of something but do not have a strong, firm hold on what we want to put in its place ~ to replace that space with, we are only dealing with a part of the equation. In other words, we need to find the direction of our heart and what we want when we are choosing or needing to let go of people, places or things. What resonated deeply were her words “Uncertainty is one of the primary human fears.” It can be scary when we do not know where we are going or what lies ahead.
#1 Note to self: Be in discovery. Letting go when you don’t really want to, but have no choice.
On Christmas eve, my son Taylor turned 28. Other than some business matters which brought us together, he has not spoken with me in nearly 6 months. I’ve gone through every emotion possible; sadness, denial; anger; resentment; complacency; and near-acceptance. As I write this, I’m in a near-acceptance space, edging toward absolute acceptance. Teal’s words helped me see that for much of my adult life I had become my children’s mom, an “autism mom,” and an advocate, but I had forgotten who I was outside of those roles.
I received a letter over Christmas from my dear friend Stuart (my ex-husband) which helped me greatly. I know a lot of you as parents are going through transformative relationships with your teen or adult children, and still others will go through this emancipation soon. His letter helped not just me, but a lot of others who read it in social media. Here’s the letter he sent.
Awakening Often Comes on the Heels of Conflict.
“Keri…Taylor’s silence sucks huh? I truly feel your pain and sadness and can relate on so many levels.
You did nothing wrong but you did give Taylor the roots of responsibility and nurtured the growth of his wings. He is flying solo for a while but all birds must return to earth eventually.
‘Tis no comfort in knowing that his actions hurt, but he IS using the tools you spent decades teaching him and countless others to use effectively. Of course we hope that when our children reach into their toolbox, they pull out love and compassion, but sometimes the tools they choose to use are silence and withdrawal.
This day of Taylor’s birth was also a rebirth of Keri, when your steps down the path to your life’s work began. You chose to take the right road, the hard road, but frequently the road takes twists and turns that we can never anticipate or prepare for.
I know that these words are just that, words. They carry no magic healing power and certainty not the strength to take another breath, weather another storm, heal a broken heart…
I’m sorry that you are hurting, and sorry that it is your beautiful son that causes you pain. I wish I had answers and not platitudes. Be strong, be proud, be there for him when he needs you.
For what it is worth, you have my admiration, my respect and yes, my love. Always…”
Experiment with New Things, Forgotten Things.. with New Ideas and Possibilities
For a few weeks now, I’ve been experimenting with remembering a version of myself I had forgotten; who I was before autism and motherhood came knocking at my door. I’ve been expanding to do things in my life outside of autism. I’ve gone to a play; a concert; and two movies which I have not done with intention for a very long time. I put my feet in the Pacific ocean on Christmas eve. I commissioned a kid (not autistic) to buy a piece of his amazing art work ~ moving in a direction outside of the autistic artists I have supported for nearly three decades. These things may not appear to be a big deal, but they are for me. As one who works nearly all the time in all things autism, and defines myself as “mom”, these are big ticket items in my having fun for the sake of fun and experiencing life for the sake of itself.
I love my work with The Art of Autism, the Friendship Circle, filmmaking, clients, writing and advocacy. I will always be a part of this life. This is not a bad thing. It can, however, be limiting at times. I need more balance for that who is me; who I am without my son’s autism or my work that I have designed to need me. I’m open to new things, even considering going to Europe for six months in 2017 to travel and work there while seeing the countries and cultures I so love. Can you relate?
#2 Making Peace with What Happened
Stuart’s letter helped me to remember that I helped Taylor find the tools he needed to be independent without me. When he was young, I declared (in a written mission statement), my intention that he live as independently and inclusively as possible as an adult, with supports as needed. This vision came true ~ though I did not know way back then it might include his need to distance himself from me. Teal and Stuart’s words helped me understand that I now need to create my own vision statement and actions ~ things that fill an empty space ~ with what I want. So I am discovering “who am I without you”, and seeking the tools I need to find myself again.
In the vlog mentioned, Lee Harris went on to say that key to moving in a forward direction is to make making peace with what happened (in your life) that you didn’t want, and also making peace with what you see in the world that you didn’t want. He went on to say that as you get sucked into the vibration of what you do not want, you tend to lose a true reality that you can come back to creating something in your reality that you do want. People get sucked into a spiral of negativity which begets more negativity as is its rule.
Whether we’re talking about the new administration in the U.S., other politics, the state of war in the world, the health of the planet, or a child ~ like mine or yours ~ what we resist persists. This is not simply a bumper sticker or meme; it’s a truth in the law of attraction. When we focus on what we want to positively to put in place in the absence of what we are wanting or needing to release, we now have the power in positive intention to guide us.
Even my efforts in advocacy have shifted. The Art of Autism is rolling out a peace flag initiative in 2017 to extend positivity in our collective cause in autism and disabilities in the world. We’ve been making, and encourage you to make, 12×12 fabric peace flags decorated with paint, markers, etc. (stick figures allowed), to send to the new administration and/or to people you love. Filling a space in the future’s uncertainty, or the lives of those we love with art is an effort is intended to seek what we want, and to remind others of the disabilities constituency/community in all legislation, law, supports, education, jobs and futures. In this effort, we do not want to focus on what we do not want, or to blame or shame.
These pictures are some of the flags made by Friendship Circle/Sunday Circle kids to be sent next week to the Whitehouse. Again, these flags are intended to replace uncertainty and fear, with intention; the intention that as a constituency, we are remembered. Is this superfluous, airy-fairy, intangible? Perhaps, yet it is a manifestation of intention.
#3 Acknowledge and Thank the People We Love
The Art of Autism takes this moment to thank each of our friends and supporters in The Art of Autism collaborative. Our artist, poets, bloggers, donors, Board of Directors, contributors, and other supporters. For you, who raise our spirits by encouraging us with kind posts, letters and notes, for those who share our bloggers’ posts, our newsletter and the other things we share with you, we are appreciative. We honor you and give gratitude for your gifts of good thoughts, efforts and kindness.
In the spirit of opening up to more of what you want, we hope you will share your appreciation, gratitude and thanks for those who hold you up and give you nourishment along the way in your journey. We hope you will fill the spaces of your new year with the things you desire. Let others know they matter. Make this new year a time to discover and find more of what you want, while releasing and letting go of what is not your true purpose or intention. We hope that as you move forward in the new and uncertain year, that you fill the spaces of your life with deliberate creation, intention, hope, love ~ and lots and lots of color!
Much love and light in the Newness of the Year.
Keri Bowers is the co-founder of the Art of Autism nonprofit, a film producer, speaker, writer, mom to Taylor and Jace and open to possibilities ….