“The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.” -Barry Neil Kaufman
I am in yet another transition period in my life in which I have become determined to see the growth and beauty of the experience through the challenges in front of me. One of these challenges is watching a volunteer that has given so much to me and my family over the past 3 years as well as another one that is full of so much life start new chapters in their lives. It’s amazing how much another human being can change your life just by giving you their compassion and time.
When I initially tell people that my son has autism, it is very many times met with an “I’m sorry.” In such a self-focused and self-person world, it is easy to succumb to the poor me attitude when met with what may be considered a challenge instead of finding that opportunity to grow through it. In the beginning stages of his diagnosis, I have to admit that I initially enjoyed what I felt was pity, as if it gave me some badge of honor. However, my response now is always, “Thank you for your compassion, but don’t be sorry.” My son is the reason I now know how to actively choose happiness in every moment of every day. Happiness is not in status, money, how many friends we have, etc. It is in the relationships that we hold with every human being we encounter.
This lesson is continually taught to me through watching my son find joy in such simple things and mostly watching the people who have so freely given their love, dedication, time, acceptance, nonjudgement, commitment and whole selves to us these past few years in order to give my son a chance at a more fulfilling and more connected life. They were all initially strangers…..strangers, who have shown love and compassion in a way I can only aspire to emulate. I’m not sure I can ever repay them, but what I can do is continue to live my life by their example and effect lives around me in this way.
What have I learned about acts of kindness?
I have learned that it is not one-sided……you are half of it. It’s never a sacrifice when you fully give of yourself to better another human being’s circumstances or life. When you do this, you take the focus off you and your challenges. When you place your positive energy on another soul, your life becomes a hopeful experience which brings about your own joy and happiness.
Giving is never about doing without. It’s about making greater room to receive.
Quality of life does not depend on what you have. It depends on how much you give of your heart. One person’s positive energy can profoundly change lives. Every action you take has an effect on people’s lives and the lives around them. This positive energy can then have a ripple effect and in essence has the potential to change the world!
The biggest lesson I learned is that by loving humanity in this way, you become an example of what is possible, an inspiration. You open awareness to others and their own potential to effect positive change in the world around them. You also teach gratitude, compassion and love through your actions which speak so much louder than words.
To Carter and KD:
I am forever grateful for you both. MY life has been forever altered because of the love you have shown our family and my son. Every milestone and challenge that I was initially told my son would never meet but now has met and surpassed is a celebration of your faith, love and dedication to our family and this program. Please know that YOU are the reason we have been able to learn how to find happiness and joy in our daily life. I love you both dearly and know that you will both continue to effect the lives around you in this way. Thank you for dreaming with us and reaching for the unreachable!
In the words of Maya Angelou:
My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.
Carter, I have included my favorite video of Lucas and you in the playroom. This is the first time we saw his sense of mischief and humor in the playroom. Such a great moment!
KD, I love this video of you, because of the love and energy that just radiates in this interaction.