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Finding the Beauty in the Unexpected

March 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently met with a mother who is currently having trouble trying to understand her child and some of the reasons why he does what he does. During our session she expressed how difficult it can be to raise a child with a disability. We discussed some of the ways in which she categorizes disability and what the concept of “disability” means to her. She expressed a feeling of sadness, but also stated that she feels as though she has accepted some of the difficulties that her life may bring. She mentioned a poem by Emily Pearl Kingsley entitled, “Welcome to Holland.” The theme of the poem is how being the parent of a child with a disability is unexpected and challenging, yet special and rewarding. The poem compares raising a child with a disability to planning a trip to Italy. The family waits their whole life to take this one trip. A trip to a place they have planned and dreamed of. The family makes sure they plan every minute. Hours of research and time goes into planning for this trip. Then, they get on the plane, fly for hours, and once they touch down the stewardess greets them at the door and says, “Welcome to Holland!” The family then becomes upset and confused because they were supposed to be in Italy. They’ve waited their whole life to get there, only to have something different happen. The family, in the end, sees the beauty of Holland, and although it may not have been expected, they find value in their new destination.

Hearing this story makes me think of some of the struggles that families must go through when trying to make sense of how their lives have turned out. Sometimes we may feel as though we’ve been cheated in some way; that somehow our life hasn’t turned out the way it was supposed to.

Keeping this in mind, I wonder what it is that you value in your life? How are you able to show yourself that there is beauty in some of the things that may not seem so special? Do you ever take time to sit back and work on yourself?

As you read this, I want you to think about the very first post ever written on this blog. It discusses resolutions for the New Year and things to keep in mind when making a New Year’s Resolution. Take some time and reflect on how far you’ve come. Have you continued to make progress towards those goals? If no, then why not? What’s getting in the way of making that precious step towards a better you?

The idea behind Emily Pearl Kingsley’s poem is to help put into perspective what it is like for parents who raise kids with disabilities, but it can be expanded upon much further. It is really a metaphor for anyone who feels as though things just didn’t work out the way you wanted them to.  As a result, let us take a first step towards getting you there!

1.)    Identify what is bothering you or something you’d like to change about your life.

Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to. SO WHAT! Make your own fate. If things don’t work out there is always a way around it! Stay positive and be innovative. Sitting down and accepting this is not going to get you anywhere closer to your goal. In some cases, it’s as simple as changing your attitude towards the situation.

2.)    Stop with the negative self talk!

We call this ruminating. Stop talking yourself out of things. Keep yourself positive and shut down that inner voice that tells you how bad or how hard something is. We already know it’s hard, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be worth it right?

3.)    Take that scary first step.

Nobody is going to do this for you. Move forward with confidence. In fact, it’s normal to feel scared – it would be weird if you didn’t. Accept the fact that the worst that can happen is you fail (use that as a learning experience), the best thing is that you will succeed and achieve your goals.

4.)    Take a moment after to praise yourself.

As adults, it is hard to find positive reinforcement. While we were growing up, our parents and teachers gave us gold stars when we did something nice. As adults, our bosses expect that a paycheck at the end of the week is good enough to say job well done. So, that being said, adults must put in effort to allow ourselves to be rewarded. If you don’t do it, then nobody will.

The poem may discuss the outlook of raising kids with disabilities, but it does much more in communicating the feelings associated with having your life turn out a bit different than what you had anticipated. So the next time you’re coming off that runway, upset that you won’t have the opportunity to visit the Coliseum, remember that if you take a moment to really look around, Holland’s a pretty beautiful place too.

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