Painting the Dog and Love as Self-care

My brain is full of stuff that I am trying to work through – and I trust in the process – really I do… but I have to remind myself of this – or I can get in the way.

I am a bit bogged down by all of the things I feel I am supposed to be doing… and this is usually an indication that it is time for some self-care. My shoulders are tight and I have hardly written here at all…

And all of this bogging down feeling… it is mostly with things I actually want to do.

There are grand adventures on the horizon… I know.

But there is some slogging first and I am having trouble with that.

And now today, on this rainy Sunday when I should be doing a billion things, H and I are making Valentines for some wonderful little people as part of a very cool Valentines Exchange via good ol’ fashioned snail mail.

HeartPainter1.jpg

Image: H is at the kitchen table painting heart-shaped and other cardboard bits with pink and red paint. He is looking down at the heart he is currently painting red.

It is spectacular that there are opportunities that seem to insert themselves in our lives, where H gets to be in a mentorish role with Autistic people who are younger than him.

I love H’s standing-taller-stance-of-pride when he knows how his actions can impact others. I love the opportunity for him to pay forward the acceptance he has received, because this act is affirming in itself and helps to empower and internalize pride in his identity.

Positive action, however small it might seem in the moment, lessens the hold and power of the negative stigma so present in media and so commonly present in discussions with those who are fed mostly by that same widespread media rhetoric.

I have come to understand that these small moments of positive action are collectively something much greater. They exist in H’s present, and resonate in an ongoing way that connects him to community and to his sense of having a positive impact within community. Here is what he wrote about that:

SendingLovetoMaxandTy.jpg

Image: H is holding two hermit crab Valentines with heart-shaped shells and pincers. Text Reads: Sending Love to Max and Ty. The other day me and mom made Valentine’s for two boys. Their names are Max and Ty and they are Autistic just like me. I am older than them so I have the chance to connect with them to let them know it is good to be Autistic and they are part of the Autistic community. People have treated me this way too and it has made me feel good about my self. I hope that Max and Ty make it far and know other kids like me care. Written by H

The negative stigma may still be out there – but from within our lives we can make positive steps – that give to others, while at the same time they are beautiful little-cumulatively-giant gifts to ourselves.

Expression of love and appreciation is a gift in itself… including those who are giving it.  I am reminding myself that giving to others is self-care too, because as we carry it with us, and it resonates in identity.

And thus, I want to take this opportunity to show my appreciation for the beautiful  perspectives that nourish and sustain me as well. Some of the best blogs I have encountered are posted in my blog roll listed to the right ➜. This list predominantly includes work written by Autistic people who have shaped my parenting and practice as an educator, and have had more positive impact than I can even express.

So I am offering this image of Finnegan the Rainbow Dog as my contribution to a The Love and Acceptance Virtual Valentine Exchange that is being hosted by PACLA: Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance.

I love that it is sitting in front of a sign I have on my office wall that reads: “In a world where you can be anything… be yourself.”

It wasn’t planned that way – but sometimes I find the universe gives me a little nudge.

This is a good reminder.FinneganRainbowDog.jpg

And then with a few digital alterations… this happened…

 Image: Acrylic painting on canvas depicts a brightly multicoloured patchwork looking dog overlaid with colourful patterns of stripes, dots, stars and swirls with a vivid green and blue background. A bright sun with a patchwork heart is in the upper right. It is signed L.Kelley '15. Text reads: "Love, Appreciation, Acceptance." Watermark reads: "Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley"

Image: Acrylic painting on canvas depicts a brightly multicoloured patchwork looking dog overlaid with colourful patterns of stripes, dots, stars and swirls with a vivid green and blue background. A bright sun with a patchwork heart is in the upper right. It is signed L.Kelley ’15. Text reads: “Love, Appreciation, Acceptance.” Watermark reads: “Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley”

Love and Appreciation to our Autistic and otherwise Neurodivergent family members and friends! We are so happy and grateful to have you in our lives ❤

Leah and H

Note: You can make a Valentine and submit it in a PM (private message) to PACLA. It can be a video or a poem or a drawing, or a painting, or a photo of something your made – the possibilities are wide open…  

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30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2015)

About Leah Kelley

Leah Kelley, MEd., Educator, Ed.D. Student, Parent, Activist, Speaker. Writes blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding & Neurodiversity paradigm. Co producer of documentary: Vectors of Autism. Twitter: @leah_kelley Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/leahkelley13/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/30-Days-of-Autism-Leah-Kelley/154311301315814
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