Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm In Here


I was staring sightlessly at a blank page this morning, when I was startled out of my reverie by a shrill squeak. For a wild moment, I thought that a bird had somehow infiltrated my office. My sanctuary, the place I retreat to, the room at the other end of the house that's reserved only for me, and where everything falls away.

I value the time spent here, for after filling my cup with the peace and contentment that comes with quiet time, I am a better person for it. I don't need to be pampered with various spa treatments, but I do need to be alone, from time to time. To soak up the silence contained within these four walls so I can take the gift of inner peace and allow it to flow out to others.

The chirping grew more insistent, a call to step away from myself and attend to someone's else's needs. I whirled round and came face-to-face with a bird. Well, not quite face-to-face - a pane of glass separated us from one another.

I stepped closer to my visitor - a rather daring visitor who didn't seem to appreciate my need for alone time - and looked him over from head to toe. He craned his neck, peering in at the darkened room, but his view was clouded.

This was obviously a planned trip, for he had taken great care to dress for the occasion. Brilliant red tie, crisp white shirt, and black jacket. (I later learned that he was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.) After craning his neck a few times, he suddenly reared up, wings spread wide, and flung himself against a wall of glass. He stumbled back, but somehow remained on the windowsill. Smoothing down his lapel, my gentleman caller took a last lingering look, shrugged his shoulders, and flew off.

It's always a frustrating experience for anyone. We all share the need to connect with others, be part of a community, to belong. But we've all been in that dark place. Standing on the sidelines, peering in at a party in full swing, and just wanting to connect with those around us. Yet somehow we're left with the feeling that we're standing on the outside looking in.

As I watched a video the other day that calls us to listen with our hearts to those who often feel like they're beating their wings against a solid wall, I wondered how I could start being a better listener. Well, I could begin by stepping outside of my comfort zone, opening my doors wide to those who just want us to "see the world through their eyes for just a moment in time."

For a look at an anthem for autism, check out

19 comments:

Terry Klein said...

How wonderful of you to be sharing this information with others. I was not aware of the anthem for Autism. Thanks so much. I will pass this on to a co-worker who has a sweet 15 year old son. I found out about your blog from Ideal-Way. My friend's son entered their Poetry Contest. Amazing idea for sure! Continue doing what you are doing. You are making a difference.

North Bay, Ontario

Maureen Lee said...

You're welcome, Terry. I'm so glad your friend's son entered IDEAL-WAY's Poetry Contest. Maybe you could encourage him to send me a poem for the blog. I will happily post whatever he sends in, and if a photo of him is attached, I'll post that, too.

FYI, if he dabbles in art, he might be interested in our upcoming Art Contest, as well!

Thank you for your comments about IDEAL-WAY.ca, Terry.

verna b. said...

"I'm In Here" .. what an absolutely beautiful and powerful song .... I am speechless and touched to the core! I will be sure to forward this on to my friends, two of whom are in the battle of their lives on behalf of their autistic children! I will also push to have this "Anthem for Autism" played on the radio.
How wonderful that Terry's friend's son entered the Ideal-Way poetry contest! Hope you won, Sonny, and if not, perhaps next time. The main thing is you tried!
By the way, Maureen, the little fellow in the fireman's helmet is an absolute sweetie! God love him!

Gordo said...

Just before I went online, an out-of-town friend of mine had asked me what percentage of the population has an intellectual disability. I told her "I don't know but, I believe it is a large number."

Coincidentally, I hadn't visited this fabulous blog for a while and right away I found at least a partial answer.

The statement "Every 20 minutes a child is born with Autism" is very scary! But, thanks for the information. Keep up your great blogging. As terry klein very well expressed it ... "You are making a difference."

Maureen Lee said...

Verna, I agree with you: "I'm In Here" sends a powerful message. Let's all join hands and push to have this beautiful song played as much as possible on the radio.

Thank you, to each and every one of you who entered the IDEAL Poetry Contest. Verna, you're so right: keep writing, because there's always next time! (The Poetry Contest will be an annual event.)

The little guy in the fireman's helmet is my nephew, Christian. He was diagnosed with autism when he was five years old. He just turned eight, and he enjoys drawing, writing poetry, swimming, and playing with his older brother. I'll be posting one of his poems, in the near future, in 'A Place For Poets'!

Gordo, In the section, 'Did You Know?' on the IDEAL-WAY website (http://www.ideal-way.ca/Ideal/DidYouKnow.aspx), the Severe Intellectual Disability prevalence rate in Western countries is 3-4 per 1,000 population. (In Canada, approximately 44,700 adults between the ages of 45-64, & 11,080 adults over 65 live with an intellectual disability.)

Great question, Gordo, and thanks for your comments about our blog. It's wonderful to receive feedback from the readers of this labour of love!

Jenny said...

Another amazing entry! The imagery and message was incredible, and I think you're going to have quite a few readers by the end of the year!

Keep it up, and I can't wait to read the next entry!

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you, Jenny, for taking the time to read our blog. Your kind words are appreciated, and I do hope you visit us again.

Hillary F, Napanee said...

Fabulous blog! You're quite the writer, Maureen. Thanks for the insight on the intellectually disabled and autism. Sad to say I was not aware of the problems these persons encounter in their day-to-day lives. The Ideal Way site was a real eye opener for me! By the looks of it, this organization is proving to be a real winner! Thanks for the updates!

Jeff said...

Hello Maureen. I just love your story. We have all felt left out and standing at the sidelines at one time or another in our lives. And, how has that made us feel? And, you are absolutely correct when you say that we need to step out and connect with others, and get out of our comfort zone. That is what is wrong with the world these days. How sad that we live in a 'me' world and not a 'we' world.

Although I have no direct experience with persons with Autism and developmental delays, I do believe they have big hearts. By the way, I just loved the Ideal-Way.ca site and your mission. I will pass on these sites to friends and families to pass on to others. Keep up the amazing work!

Toronto, ON

Aprille said...

Your words are beautiful and the sentiments you capture just perfect. This is a happening blog! Great writing, thought-provoking and the 'voice' is lovely. AND you get some great comments. People are noticing and that's what bloggiing is all about - a conversation.

Aprille Janes
http://www.successforwomen.ca

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you, all, for your kind words. Aprille, you are right: blogging is a conversation, and I appreciate people not only taking the time to read our blog, but leaving feedback, as well!

I am also grateful, Aprille, for all that I learned about blogging from YOUR blog, "Success For Women: What Does Success Look Like to You?" (www.aprillejanes.typepad.com) It is a highly readable, insightful blog, and it certainly inspired me to create something that would be "thought provoking". Thanks, again!

Hillary, thank you, and I'm glad that the IDEAL-WAY site was helpful!

Jeff, I couldn't agree with you more - if we listen with our hearts to these unique and caring individuals, we learn what matters most in life to them. This requires that we step outside of our comfort zone and connect with others, for special needs persons enjoy a special gift to emotionally connect with others on a deep level.

Phyllis and Jack said...

We really enjoy reading the stories on your blog. They are well written and very touching. Our grandchildren laugh at us all the time because we can't sleep well at night so we are online quite a bit. The photo of the young boy is adorable. I noticed the same picture on the IDEAL-WAY.ca website. My husband said he probably has a developmental delay and that is why his picture is there. Maureen, is that young boy your son by any chance?

Columbus, Ohio

Don said...

Solitude if I could find it wasn't always enough for me. Sometimes I could turn it into something positively bad. Sometimes I found peace; sometimes I just hid myself away.

Painting always did help. No talent required. Usually in the pre-dawn. I liked my coffee with acrylics and away from autism.

I don't remember exactly how I got from one crisis to the next during some of those those days. I do remember the visceral emptiness. We worry about our children, our responsibilities, the future, the past. We need to worry--no, not worry but care for ourselves too.

Thank you for this forum and for everything you do.

Don Ward
Only we stand against chaos and collapse.

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you, Don, for your eloquently written observations from a parent's perspective. You quite simply took my breath away, and I know that there are many other parents/caregivers who read your comment and felt relief. Relief that they are not alone, that if they are feeling 'lost', as one mom recently said, they can give themselves permission to take care of themselves.

Paint, write, get together with other parents/caregivers and just talk. Because, as you so poignantly put it, "Only we stand against chaos and collapse".

I highly recommend 'Doug Whispers' (http://web.mac.com/dward7097/iWeb/Doug%20Whispers/Blog/Blog.html): A wonderful forum that "has been created so that those who care about the disabled can voice their concerns, propose solutions and advocate against the denial of services for our least capable citizens."

Nadia M., Alliston said...

Thank you for recommending "Doug Whispers"! This young man,who many probably thought would never be capable of much, has a blog of his own! I'm still not sure myself exactly what a blog is! (Perhaps you could enlighten your readers with a definition?) Bravo to Doug, and kudos to his supporters. You have proven once again that persons with autism have much to offer, and they are not to be disregarded because they are different. By the way, were any of the Ideal Poetry Contest winners autistic? If so, I look forward to reading their entries alongside the others. Keep up your great work, Maureen Lee!

Maureen Lee said...

Nadia, it was my pleasure to recommend 'Doug Whispers'. This is a much needed forum for parents/caregivers, who are in many respects feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and lost. The blog provides up-to-date info on gov't. agencies, organizations, etc. for special needs persons, as well.

According to marketingterms.com, a blog is "a frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links. A blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person's life and what is happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/guide site, although there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people."
I like this definition, too: An online diary where people can post messages and others may view and respond to the posts.

Yes, the IDEAL Poetry Contest was exclusively for special needs individuals, and many of the winners are autistic. If you would like to read the winning entries, please go to www.ideal-way.ca.

Gordo said...

A famous American cultural anthropologist named Margaret Mead may as well have predicted ideal-way.ca, and perhaps foreseen something like this blog with its great links and its guests' insightful comments, when she wrote:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

More power to you, Maureen. You go girl!

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks, Gordo, for your continuing support and wonderful quotes. In fact, Margaret Mead's quote is being added to the blog - I agree with you: she could have been speaking about Ideal-Way.ca!

Gordo said...

Your welcome, maureen lee. I am sure that Margaret Mead would be proud of what you, and ideal-way, are doing to "change the world" of intellectual disability.

As Aprille said, above: "This is a happening blog!"

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