You ever sit back and wonder why you are the way you are? Why you look the way you do, have the lifestyle you live, the children you may or may not have, the choices that have brought you there?
I did; today.
I reflect on these choices many times a year, especially if something major has happened. Today nothing super majored happened, but it for sure got me seeing clearly again about the life I have, the person I have grown to be - and I'm pretty stoked.
I am not sure if I have mentioned my earlier life before more than struggling with my past of not being the nicest person in the world; something I fully regret with every fibre in me. Let me introduce you to Vanessa circa 1996-2002. She was athletic, she did very well in school (except math and french) thought she was Jim Carrey's long lost twin, and was awarded the Citizenship Award when she graduated Westmount Public School in Thorold with 12 other graduates. Through the years, she always would move on with Public Speaking in school, and was in Drama since she was 9 years old. This love of public speaking followed her into Highschool, and she stayed in Drama winning an award for her performance in 2002 at the Sears Drama Festival. Why is this important?
Because officially now it makes sense.
My dreams on leaving Niagara never happened, I let love get in the way of what I really wanted to pursue, so that ship has sailed. Something bigger than me had other plans for my strengths; and it came in a 7lb 14 ounce package named Owen Carl Coens. Little did I know in 2007, this boy was not only going to teach me how to be a better person and mother, he was going to need those strengths I put on the back burner for so long, and that was drawn out of me again when we asked our community for help to attend (2) Fundraisers for him and later on, his brother so they could have therapy sooner than the typical 3 year wait for government funded therapy.
It gave me another reason to speak again; and this time I wasn't memorizing lines, I was speaking from the heart as a mother to a son with Autism; in a heart breaking but positive light that so many are ignorant too.
Because of my voice, we were in Niagara This Week with our story, with my baby boy on the front page; because of my voice, his classmates; every year for the past 3 years are trying desperately to understand the uniqueness of my son and celebrate all of our differences, so will Highschool students after I have spoke to Westlane Secondary School and E.L. Crossley Secondary School; because of my voice, we got to tell a bit of our story on the Marilyn Denis show back in May 2013, and once again, because of my voice and my love for my sons and the Autism Community - I am honoured to speak at Niagara College in their Autism Class "Working with Families" and we will be featured in the St. Catharines Standard and Niagara Falls Review.
Also with my voice, I am not afraid to talk about our life. I like to. I like to make others aware of the struggles, the gains we have had, moments that only other parents in our shoes would truly understand - and most importantly, I like to educate. Do you know how many parents I have had the pleasure to meet that just received their children's diagnosis and have no idea where to go from there?! That they want to access services, but don't know where to start or what they are entitled too?!
There is my calling. I was given the ability to stand in front of hundreds of people sometimes, and 1 person the next time, and educate, advocate and celebrate all that is the positive and real sides of Autism.
Thank you God for my gift. Our family appreciates it.