Personal Stories: Learning from Our Collective Experience

Personal Stories define us.  This is what we tell ourselves and tell other people about us.  They are part of what we use to understand ourselves, understand the world, and come to terms with the choices that we make throughout our lives.

This is why I’m opening this section to the special village in its entirety.  Do you have a story that you would like to share?  Did you learn from any particular experience that you had with your child (brother, sister, grandchild, etc.)? Is there anything that you would like to share with the world so that you can enlighten all of us?  We want to be here to share our experiences and support each other.

I would not be in this space if it weren’t for my youngest brother, Fernando.  He is seven years younger than me, and five years younger than our middle brother, Hernan.  I have so many stories to share about how tough it was to grow up in a time and place when caring for the disabled and including them in every aspect of life and decision making was not mainstream.  I grew up understanding how judged my parents felt.  I grew up feeling the isolation that stemmed from this experience.

The good news is that none of this stopped us.  Families can be very resilient and can thrive in the shadow of extreme pain.  It is because I want to showcase that resilience and foster an environment of understanding that I would like to feature YOUR story.  Share your thoughts (or your story) with me at ourspecialvillage@gmail.com.

Fernando 🙂

Hope to hear from you!

Dr. Klimek

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Dr. Vanessa Lapointe’s latest book: Parenting Right from the Start

It was nothing but refreshing to read Dr. Lapointe’s professional take on attachment and development.  Let’s just say that many of the ideas that she talks about in her new book Parenting Right from the Start are the very same ideas that I have been teaching my families for quite some time.  This is all especially true when dealing with special needs families, and at the same time, harder to crystallize.  It is worth pointing though, and I can firmly say that this will be one of the first books I will be recommending to my families from now on. 

The wholistic, and at the same time, individualized approach that she teaches the families she works with very much approximate the message that I try to instill in the families that I work with, namely:

  1. You got this!
  2. Don’t let fear of judgement by others take over!
  3. Don’t let judgement of yourself take over!
  4. Relax and enjoy the ride!

My knowledge is not only based on years of experience but also on years of working on the connection between Eastern and Western thought.  I can only summarize it with what a parent told me this morning, as we were talking about his daughter’s traumatic past, “worrying and dwelling are like a rocking chair, they give you something to do but you won’t get anywhere with it.”  Those wise words carried me through the day, and they can get you through the worst crises as well as the not-so-terrible ones:  temper tantrums, defiant behavior, resistant behavior, and normal developmental challenges that all parents are exposed to. Did your child have a tantrum?  Did you yell when you shouldn’t have?  Forgive yourself and move one.  Learn from this experience and take a step back next time. 

Parenting Right from the Start focuses on exactly what the title claims:  Parenting way before you decide to have children, but in a non-judgmental, caring way.  It explores common milestones from the parents’ point of view and from the child.  It teaches parents to look at the world through the child’s eyes.  The result is a more confident parent who is in control and understands that it is normal for parents to feel overwhelmed sometimes.  It teaches parents to deal with those feelings of defeat and provides an avenue not only to help the child grow, but to help parents grow.

To get a copy of this book, click here.  The paperback is out on October 8th, 2019. 

Highly Recommended!

If you have any questions of comments, drop me a note!

Cheers!

Dr. Klimek

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Confessions of a Plastic Surgeon: Life and Living

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Like Dr. Jeneby, I also have a confession.  I wanted to read Confessions of a Plastic Surgeon even though it had no relation (or so I thought) with what I typically write about on this blog.  But then, I read the book, and I realized that this doctor’s outlook on life has more in common with mine than I want to admit.

For starters, in his book Confessions of a Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Jeneby refers to his childhood, his journey through school, his different, “one-of-a-kind” personality, that made him stand out, and all these things reminded me of my life.  Like Dr. Jeneby, I often felt like an “outsider,” whether in school or at work.  I mostly felt like the odd one out of the bunch.  I was never part of the “cool” clique, and most days I was called the “nerd.”  Dr. Jeneby talks very candidly about how this phase in his life gave him the fuel he needed to stay motivated and prove everyone wrong.  Like him, I do have an insatiable drive to show everyone what I can do, and in my case, what WE, as a special village, can do.  We have a similar story, even if on the surface it looks very different.

Dr. Jeneby is very close to his family and takes the opportunity to show us his life.  He credits his mother for providing the strong role modeling of a strong, motivated, professional woman.  Her strong guidance spearheaded him into a successful life, but the support of his family through thick and thin is what keeps him afloat. In Confessions of a Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Jeneby talks about his desire for success, his motivation, and his realization that he could only be himself if he worked for himself.  In this particular regard too, I felt connected to what he describes.  I spent so much time working for “others” when it didn’t suit me, that my only regret is not having set myself free sooner.

He dedicates a good amount of the book talking about his charity work, which he pours his heart into.  Like him, I cannot live without this aspect of my life, which is why I pour my heart into The Bocha ProjectConfessions of a Plastic Surgeon is the unveiling of a world that I you can only see in television programs like Botched, plus everything that comes with this world:  the craziness, the unstoppable hours, the constant running for time.  If you like to watch plastic surgery shows on television, you will definitely like Confessions of a Plastic Surgeon, and you will get to know an awesome professional as an added bonus.

Woman with face covered by a hat.
Confessions of a Plastic Surgeon

Treat yourself! 

Cooking with your Family: One Dish Four Seasons by Jordan Zucker

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I remember years ago, when I first discovered my love for cooking.  Up until that point I was somehow “afraid” of the kitchen: Afraid of being judged by my inability to produce masterful dishes; Afraid of being categorized as the brainy girl with no desire for practical things.  But as luck would have it, I ran across a good cookbook (or two, or three…) and it showed me that cooking is an experience, one that starts way before we enter the kitchen.  The culinary journey starts in our minds, imagining what we are in the mood for eating or drinking, and then, it continues while we shop, selecting those ingredients.  The end result is us settling at home, or with friends, while we cook with our family and enjoy the company of our loved ones.

As a therapist, I often get asked what activities to use to promote the transfer of skills from one activity during therapy to everyday activities at home. Cooking with your family and including your child every step of the way is one activity that I recommend very often.  There is simply so much to learn during the process of getting together to prepare a meal!  Jordan Zucker’s new book, One Dish Four Seasons, supplies us with the elements we need to make this engaging, social-emotional activity as enjoyable as possible.

There is no replacement for such an opportunity to share a bonding experience, while being able to engage with your child at a cognitive, social-emotional, and gross/fine motor level, labeling objects such as food items, cookware, utensils, following directions, as in following the recipe step by step, and having the patience to see it through.  Furthermore, One Dish Four Seasons is color coded so that each recipe honors a particular time of the year.  Jordan Zucker takes one dish and prepares it four ways, so that each variation is thought out and seasonal.  This provides a unique way to teach children about what grows during what times (i.e. why we eat pumpkins in the Fall, for example), and the importance of seasons.

Jordan Zucker’s recipes are both extraordinary and simple.  The pictures are incredibly yummy and an opportunity for children to see the dish they are preparing ahead of time, the finished product.  For me, the pictures are just mouth-watering.  Ms. Zucker, who grew up in a very creative family that also placed a great deal of importance on family and food, makes it even more interesting by adding the wine pairings for every recipe and the record you should be playing while cooking!  For me, these are two very important points:  I tend to sip wine and listen to music when I cook! 

If you asked Ms. Zucker what she is likely to do on a Friday night, she will say that Friday nights are just the same as any other night.  You might just find her cooking!  And like me, there is one book she cannot do without:  Siddartha by Herman Hesse.  Definitely a classic!

You can take a look at her book, and buy it, right here.  If you are interested in learning more about Jordan Zucker and One Dish Four Seasons, you can learn more at onedishfourseasons.com

One Dish Four Seasons