Life changing true stories told to encourage, empower and inspire us!

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"Fill your mind with light, happiness, hope, feelings of security and strength, and soon your life will reflect these qualities." ~Unknown

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"The Greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance!" ~Brian Tracy

All post and stories are the sole property of Velvet Over Steel aka Coreen Trost. I write and create post in order to help others, so share as you want. I just ask that you link back or give VOS credit. Some of the stories are going into a book in progress. Thank You ALL.. for your support and help!!
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Quincy Adams

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Attitude and Conflict

We see conflict everywhere; on the news, in the work place, and unfortunately in our homes sometimes. We see people deal with conflict badly and admire people who handle conflict resolution in a calm rational manner.

Conflict is described as a disagreement through which the parties involved perceive a threat to their needs, interests or concerns.  So a conflict is really a personal perception of what is important to an individual.  A person's point of view based on their own interest, values or needs.  That explains why some conflicts are so passionate and even heated at times.

How we handle those times of conflict has a lot to do with our attitude.  If we really want to find a resolution.  If we really care about the situation or the people involved.  Or do we just want to fight because we are so unhappy and don't care about the consequences and the damage we cause.
"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude."-William James
I totally agree with this quote. I personally spent way too many years with someone who wanted to fight and had to be right no matter what. I was the peace keeper who just wanted 'calm' in my home and life. I could go the rest of my life without ever fighting or arguing again. Probably won't happen, but I would like that.

Everyone will disagree, at least once in a while, but I see no need to fight.  I think right there is an attitude, an attitude of peace.  Of deciding not to fight, to communicate and agreeing to work things out. Anything can be discussed calmly with the right attitude.  If you truely care about the person you are having a conflict with, I think you should focus on that as much as possible.  Words can never be taken back, no matter how many times you say you're sorry.   I learned a long time ago that words can cut deeper than anything physical and I have experienced both. 

So how do you deal with conflict?  Do you think the right attitude makes a difference to the outcome?
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hoping that Autism Awareness brings Compassion and Understanding

April is Autism Awareness month and this link Raising Autism Awareness gives lot of information.  My personal hope, from personal experiences raising a child with a diagnosis in the Autism Spectrum, is that autism awareness will give people the information they need to be more compassionate and understanding to both those with autism and those caring for them.

A blogging friend of mine and fellow Asperger parent has an awesome blog that feeds to mine. She recently responded to another blogger who, along with some of her followers, made fun of an autistic child and criticized the parenting of her caregiver.  My friend wrote an appropriate and informative response:  Snarky Ignorance and Autism Awareness.   I could not have responded any better.

Elise wrote what I have felt and experienced many times while raising my youngest son who has Asperger Syndrome.  Long before he had a correct diagnosis, and even afterwards, I experienced enormous criticism, judgement and even cruelty from people who did not know me or my son, let alone lived in my home, walked in my shoes or lived through our experiences. 

When we moved to Iowa my son and I were both hoping for a fresh start.  Unfortunately that didn't happen and we were very disappointed by that.  In fact it seemed to us that many, but not all of course, were more critical and judgemental.   They found nothing but fault with my son.  Not willing or open minded enough to understand, let alone find any compassion.  Unlike back home, where people looked at how far my son had come, instead of how far he still needed to go. 

Education wise, it was a fresh start for my son.  Even that though took time to overcome the excuses and preconceived attitudes from the previous school.  The current school would ask for records and high school credits and the previous school couldn't provide much more than attendance records.  There were no high school credits to transfer but there were lots of excuses for that and for not having given my son an education the last 3 years he was there. 

The reason my son didn't get an education at his previous school wasn't because they didn't know he had Asperger Syndrome, that answer had come 4 years eariler.  But because they refused to understand Asperger's and provide my son that understanding and the assistance his doctor recommended.  They judged both my parenting and the things he did, that he couldn't help. 

The anxiety and learning disabilities are real for these children and adults.  They do not choose to be different or even difficult.  Again Elise explains this all so well in her recent blog on Raising Asperger Kids.  I wish more people understood that we as autism  parents know what works and doesn't work for our children.  We are the ones that live with the set backs, melt downs, judgements and cruelty that our children experience.  We are doing the best that we can with what we have for our children and grandchildren. 

In many cases, such as the grandmother of the little girl in the blog post, and myself as a single parent, we are doing the best we can 'by ourselves' because others don't know how to deal with it, and have walked away.  The grandmother in the blog, should be commended for not giving up on her granddaughter and sending her away like so many adults do to these autistic children.  She is a hero in my book! 
a message for smockityfrocks
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Fever

Spring Fever is always a great excuse for cleaning out the clutter in our lives too. Whatever that clutter maybe.  For me it's different every year.  Sometimes it's in my house and sometimes it's things in my life.  This year it's both.

I have been so busy getting my house ready to sell and planning my life after the move.  I am exhausted and very excited all at the same time.  I must have Spring Fever! 

I feel like a child ready for school to be out for the summer.  Looking forward to summer adventures and lots of changes and growth that occur outwardly during that time. 

As an adult I can feel and see the possitive changes and growth inside of me during the spring each year.  This is my favorite season because I can be outside again after a long winter.  Enjoying the sunshine and all the outdoor activities I love so much.  I certainly think being outside in the sunshine and getting exercise helps all of us in some way to feel better.   

Even if all our ideas, plans and activities make us crazy busy and exhausted at the end of the day.  We still love having Spring Fever every year!  Right?  Well, I do!  How about everyone else? :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First house showing!

On Saturday I got my 'Sign' in the yard and the reality that I am really doing this... hit me!  I am selling my house and moving on to the next chapter of my life.  I have no idea what's in that chapter yet, but I am so excited no matter what my next adventures are.

I have been very busy cleaning out my basement, painting, scrubbing and getting my Adorable little house ready to sell.   Last night I got a phone call from my real estate agent.  My first showing is this Thursday.  Yikes!  Needless to say I was up late doing more cleaning.

Here is my adorable little house that I have spent the last 3 years fixing up.  Oakland Iowa House  Isn't it Adorable?! :-)  I love it, but I can't take it with.  'Sigh'....

Wish me luck and Prayers are Always appreciated!  I'll let you all know how things go!
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Am I ready to move on?

Oh my, this is too funny! I didn't mean to Post this yet, just wanted to save the title... I was very tired last night. Ha Ha

Yes though, I think I am ready to move on. I stayed here, in a cute little Iowa town, for the last 5 years because of the wonderful school. The teachers and staff gave my son an education that the 4 previous schools did not. For that I am extremely thankful!

Now that he is graduated I realized that I can move to the 'city' as they say out here. I will be closer to work, stores and family. I will also save an hour a day driving and about $200 on gas each month; if I don't spend my weekends running around too much since I will be 'closer' to everything. ..."Smile"...

Even though the thought of moving again and dealing with banks, house buyers and sellers, I am actually very excited! I am nervous about all the work ahead, but no anxiety about the change. So as of Thursday my cute little house is officially on the market 'For Sale'. I guess I am ready to move on! ..."Smile"...
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ready for More Adventures!

I took a Hugh leap of faith when I moved here almost 5 years ago. Things didn’t work out like I thought they would for me, but there is no doubt that it was God’s plan for my son to be here.

I now realize that God used the last 5 years to work on me, while providing the people that would help my. It was a long road to get my son an education. During those early years I spent all my energy and time fighting for help and resources for him; while trying to be a good mom to my older sons also.

I didn’t realize until the last 2 years that I didn’t do much of anything for myself. That I didn’t even know who I was or what I even liked outside of being a mom. I had no idea outside of parent groups and buster clubs.

My children were growing up fast and leaving the nest and I was feeling lonelier and more lost every month that went by. God was trying to tell me something and I needed to listen!

I would fill out questionnaires asking me what my hobbies and interest were and I didn’t have any!? I also wrote down ‘being a mom’… which I loved! I honestly didn’t realize that I could have my own interest too. More shocking to me was that I didn’t know what I liked to do or what interest just ’ME’.

Not only has my youngest son come a long ways; but I realize now that so have I. In the last 2 years I have had lots of new experiences and discovered many of hobbies and interest that I enjoy now. I’ve even had several outdoor adventures that I once thought it was too late for me to try. I was so wrong! It is never too late to try new things and to live life to the fullest!

Now that my children are grown and pretty much on their own now; there is so much more in this world that I want to experience and do. I am so ready for more adventures! 
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sweet Country Boy.......

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you're a leader." ~John Quincy Adams
I saw this man a while back who at first glance was a nice looking sweet country boy. Then I met him and realized he was so much more. Up until that time in my life, I'd never met anyone like him.

When I first heard him speak it was to a group of young people about his career choice, having a positive attitude and how he managed his people based on that positive attitude.

He was so incredibly passionate about what he did and the importance of attitude.  He was obviously very intelligent too, but without being arrogant.  Just open, honest and genuine!  He inspired me to believe in myself and to follow my own passions!

Since that day we have talked and gotten to know each other a little better. We have similar personalities, character qualities and the same family values.  We are very much alike.  I know in my heart that we were meant to be friends; because we each needed a friend at that time in our lives.

I feel comfortable around him.  I think he’s a true friend and that I can trust him.  Even more important, I think he ‘gets’ me.  A lot of people don’t, but I think he really does and I like that!

I had talked about writing for many years, but had never taken the initiative or just got started.  I had this dream of helping people with my experiences and stories.

Then I met this man with the passion for his job and the heart of gold toward other people.  He inspires me every day.  He is the reason I started writing, finally following my own passions and started fulfilling my own dreams.  Many of my stories are inspired by him and already help many people.  I know this from the private emails I receive everyday from those who find understanding, inspiration and strength from my blog post.

Much time has passed since I met this sweet man; and although we are busy with our careers and taking care of are own families; he continues to inspire me every time I think of him.  I know that my life, and the lives of everyone who knows him, will never be the same because of this sweet country boy!
"If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived?  Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you." ~T. Alan Armstrong

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When to help and when to walk away....

I am very intuitive and ‘emotional’ in the sense that I can ‘feel’ the emotions and tensions of the people around me. I know when people are lying or angry, even if they deny either of those things. I can tell when something is wrong and can even guess with unnerving accuracy what has happened at times.

Being in tune like that is very draining and really a downer sometimes. I can get sucked into other peoples’ lives and ‘dramas’ very easily. I have to be very careful as to how much of another person’s troubles I take in, because they will end up weighing on me after a while.

Now I love to help people and I want to be a good friend, don’t get me wrong. I just need to be careful. I need to set limits on the amount of energy and time from my own life I am capable and willing to put forth. I also want to be careful not to overstep any boundaries in a friends' life.

Even more importantly, the person I am trying to help must want help and be willing to accept it. I’ve learned the hard way, more than once, that you can’t help someone who doesn’t really want to improve their situation or want to change, if that is what’s needed. The old saying is true; you can’t help someone who isn’t willing to help themselves.

So when, as a friend, do you speak up and step in to help? When do you walk away from a friendship, even though you still care, because it’s draining the life right out of you or sacrificing your own health and well being? When you first suspect they are not trying to improve their situation? Or when it’s starting to affect your own family or other friendships?

I take all of that into consideration and then listen to my intuition or ‘gut’. If I feel anxiety or an unsettling feeling that the person isn’t telling the truth, then I back away. If they reach out to me, I will be honest and as good a friend as they will let me be.  However, I will never pacify a situation that I think is wrong. Or tell someone that ‘it’s ok’ when it’s not.

I don’t feel either of those would be any help to the person in the long run. I wouldn’t want my friends to sugar coat anything with me. I would want my friends to be honest with me! Those are true friends in my book!
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Children needed to bake cookies!! :)

I get up early on Saturday's to go to the post office before they close. They are only open from 8-9am in small towns. Then I usually run additional errands to feel productive, even if I don't accomplish much else the rest of the day. It is Saturday and my day off after all. :-)

Today had to run to the pharmacy for some cold medicine. While I was there I saws the most adorable cookie cutter set. So I had to get it, even though I don't have small children of my own around... right now anyway. Children are always welcome in this house. We love kids!
Of course I have containers FULL of cookie cutters from when my own boys were young and from when I had a home daycare. I collected every cutter and stencil I could find back then. The kids would use trace for drawing. I had, and still have, even more for use with play dough. I had the best play dough accessory collection of any daycare provider!

Oh, but the cookie cutters have so improved since then. So today when I saw the ‘new and improved’ cookie cutter/stencils of the future, I just couldn’t resist! I just knew I had to buy them!

So now I need some children to borrow, please! For a little while, just long enough to make some cookies and draw some pretty pictures, with glitter of course. Because these new and improved cookie cutter/stencils have ‘glitter’ edges for less mess, so the box says. LOL
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Preconceived Notions

"'When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.' - Wayne Dyer"

The dictionary defines a ‘Preconceived notion’ as - an opinion formed beforehand without adequate evidence. That description is extremely accurate in the case of my son who has Asperger Syndrome. He has been misunderstood and misjudged most of his life.

He even knows now that both doctors and teachers in his past have had preconceived notions about his ability to learn achieve and even what he cares or doesn’t care about. Just from looking at him or from listening to what another teachers or doctors had told them.

My son is very smart and caring. He just doesn’t have a lot of outward enthusiasm or a great deal of facial expression. That’s just Brandon! But unfortunately many people have made some pretty harsh ‘preconceived notions’ about my son just from his outward appearance or demeanor.

I feel that I am constantly trying to get past that barrier to get people to give my son a chance, in both social and work situations. It used to be in school or education situations too, but that has gotten better.

Other people’s preconceived notions have also caused my son great pain over the years. When he has tried to make friends to when he has looked for summer jobs. Kids can be cruel, but adults who should know better, can be even crueler. If people just take the time to get you know him, they see how smart, caring and funny he is and then they start to understand him. I love it when that happens!

My son has been through a lot and misunderstood often; but all those experiences have made him an even more Awesome young man. He sees past other people’s difficulties or outward appearance and has great empathy and understanding. He has no preconceived notions! He gives everyone a chance!

He is my inspiration and I am so proud of him! Love you Brandon!!
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What does 'Unconditional Love' mean to You?

I talk about Unconditional Love a lot. I even put a quote on my blog page recently that I love and that adds a needed piece. "The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance."- Brian Tracy

I feel that Unconditional Love is accepting someone for who they are and embracing them for their uniqueness and the person that not only are inside, but the person they could be with love and encouragement. Not judging, criticizing or trying to change them

The dictionary describes Unconditional Love as a term used that means to love someone regardless of one's actions or beliefs. That definition I’m not so sure of, because actions and beliefs reflect underlying character.

Although in a case of my children it wouldn’t matter what they thought or believed, I would still love them unconditionally no matter what. When it comes to dating and finding someone to spend time with, it gets more complicated. I have lots of mixed feelings and opinions in that situation. More on that later…..

So what do you think Unconditional Love is my new friends?
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm sure not perfect...

Everyone has been very kind with their comments about my post and on my parenting. Those comments bring me worth and encouragement. But I also cringe because I made a lot of mistakes too.

Although I feel I have done my best under extreme stress at times, I am FAR from perfect. I used to be a highly emotional person with a lot of damage from my own childhood to overcome. Then there's the damage from my adult relationships that I am still healing from.

I listen to the stories of my new friends on here and see the difference a happy committed couple of parents can truly make when raising children. Especially when you have a special needs child and dealing with schools, teachers and even family.

In my own situation, I not only dealt with most of it on my own, but worst than that, was fighting with my own spouse on 'our' son's diagnosis and needs. We fought about everything. From whose fault it was to what he could and could not control. It was horribly stressful on all my sons and myself. It took me a long time to forgive myself for allowing that.

I have so many regrets! I still feel horribly guilty for what my sons' witnesses and listened to. Especially my special needs son who knew we fought about him. I wished so much for my spouse to be supportive and for us to work together for your son. Unfortunately that never happened.

I have since forgiven him and I'm sure he sees things very differently now. He is back in our son's life and that means so much to him. I am glad that we get along now although I am still a single parent and carry all the stress. At least I feel that other people finally see my son like I do. Smart and a great young man! Finally!!

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Anyone Can Learn!

I believe that anyone can learn if given the proper environment and tools they need. I also feel that everyone can improve their social skills if given the opportunities, examples and support in social situations.

My own son, with Asperger Syndrome, has come further than any doctor or teacher in his past, ever thought he would. When he finally received the proper diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome at the age of 11, I was told by the pediatric specialist that he may never care about other people’s feelings, come out of his own world or learn. She was probably preparing me for the worst… but I didn’t want to hear it.

There have been numerous teachers in my son’s past who never thought he he could learn, let alone graduate high school let alone go to college. That was event when he was isolated 7th through 9th grades. Just minimal school work with an aid in a small private room every day. No regular classes to learn in and no high school credits.

Even in the high school that finally gave him the tools, understanding and encouragement to learn, few thought he would accomplish all that he has. Despite any personal opinions, everyone still gave him the help, resources, regular classes and education that they gave every other student. They never gave up on my son learning!

However, every once in a while, I would get wind of a negative comment made by a staff member at school and my ‘momma’ claws would come out. I didn’t want anyone working with my son to have an attitude that he could not learn or succeed. Or even more, I didn’t want anyone talking about my son behind ‘our’ backs and causing negative attitudes to effect how he was treated. I had seen that happen at his previous school. Of course now, he is a Hugh success story and I would hope no one there doubts he can learn or his future anymore!

I always knew he was smart and could learn. That he just needed the tools, or assistive technology in his case, along with the understanding of the anxiety associated with Asperger Syndrome. My son needed understanding and the confidence to learn and was lucky enough to finally find an awesome school with incredible teachers and staff that truly believed that everyone can learn!
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Friday, March 5, 2010

Caring what other people think

Ask anyone who has known me for a long time and they’ll agree that I used to worry about what other people thought WAY too much!

The last year or two I have FINALLY gotten over that! I’m not hyper-sensitive anymore. Ok, ok..not nearly as much as I used to be. :-) However, and this I think is funny, now that I have a blog and am writing ‘publicly’ so to speak…. I have people now telling me that I should worry about what other people think. Really…why? I only write about true stories, mine and my son’s first hand experiences mostly. I give my own thoughts and opinions, which we are all entitled too… correct?!

I know I have a lot to learn about writing and blogging. But I love it already! I'm making new friends and finding tons of connections to resources that can help both my son and I.  And if I can help someone else along the way that was meant to be.

My ultimate goal in starting a blog was to try and help other people relate, understand my son and others like him, along with getting all these stories and thoughts floating around in my head...OUT!

Writing for me, personally relieves the anxiety I feel sometimes from being the soul caregiver to my son and trying to find resources for him. Or from dealing with caseworkers and other organizations that are supposed to be there to help these kids become independent and don’t.

I also enjoy writing about all the ups and downs of dating and relationships. That too is good therapy for me in my quest to find the right man for me. It’s also my way of throwing in a little bit of humor which lightens my mood and encourages me to keep looking. :-)

So should I worry about what I write or what other people think? I don’t think so. As long as someone’s motives are honest and pure, one should be able to write what's on their mind and heart;  expressing how they feel. What do you think?

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I saw homelessness up close today

Over the years I've seen many homeless people and traveling souls at a popular intersection near the Interstate. They usually have signs explaining that they're traveling, homeless with no money and hungry. Mostly hungry!

It is always very sad to see and I have tried to help many times by getting bags of fast food from a nearby McDonalds. I want to do more, but I know I have to be very careful.

That is why I think few people direct the homeless to the help they need, let alone even look at them directly. Avoiding eye contact at all cost as they drive by.

No one chooses to be homeless. We have no idea what they have been through to become that way. Not everyone has family who can or is willing to help them. Many of the homeless have suffered horrific abuse and many suffer from some form of mental illness.

Many individuals with mental illness have been forced out on the streets when their 'homes' have closed. This is a continuing problem as more and more mental health facilities close due to lack of funding and budget cuts, adding to homelessness.

Earlier last week I saw a couple asking for food at that popular intersection, with a sign saying that were traveling, trying to get to family. They had 2 dogs with them and someone had already given them bags of McDonald's food. They were smiling inspite of have nothing but a couple of back packs and the layers of clothes they wore. It has been extremely cold here this winter and continues to be, especially at night.

Today I saw just the lady this time and only one of the dogs outside the near where I saw them 9 days ago. Sitting on the concrete outside a Walmart, leaning on the brick wall. She looked least I hoped so when I saw her. My heart sank when I saw her dog licking her and she didn't respond. She was filthy dirty, with her pants now shredded from the knees down and covered in mud. Not how I remembered her clothes looking a week earlier. I would have noticed that.

It was incredibly heartbreaking as I drove by after getting gas. As I sat at the stop sign, I could see lots of people walking by her and no one kept their eyes on her for more than a second and no one checked to see if she was alright. No one! I felt so sick inside!

I didn't know what to do and couldn't understand why no one was helping her; especially since there is a Police Satellite station at that same Walmart. Where was her husband or boyfriend? What happened to her in those 9 days when their sign had said they were traveling?  Why was she homeless in the first place.

I wanted to go back but I knew she needed more help than just a bag of McDonald's food. So I made some phone calls to some organizations and churches that I knew helped the homeless. I found someone who was going to try and get her to a shelter. I was relieved, but just a little. I cried all the way back to work this afternoon and have been praying for her, for them, ever since.

I saw homelessness up close today and I can't get that picture out of my head. Maybe that's because I need to do something. But what? I have my own special needs son and myself to take care of. Still, I feel very lucky tonight and even a little guilty for the simple life we have. I want to do something to help. In the mean time, please pray for this couple and all the homeless souls out there tonight.

For more information on homelessness and ways to help, visit Pictures the  Thank you!
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Only Quality Stalkers please...

It is very hard for me to put myself out there. I have done so a few times in the last 5 years and it has never worked out well. In the past I have ended up embarrassed and even humiliated, making it almost impossible to trust the men who ask me out.

I want to understand why some men I meet turn out to be stalkers. Immediately deciding that I’m the ‘one’ and pursuing me at full speed. To the point I consider getting a restraining order because they won’t take no for an answer.

While other men, whom I think are a possible match, give mixed signals and play games. Men who seem interested one day and distant the next. These men are constantly running hot and cold in spite of my patience and remaining independent. I don’t understand them or why I seem to attract these mixed up souls.

For once I would like to attract an honest, sincere man who doesn’t play games. I want a man who will work at quality relationship and willing to fight for it or me as the case may be. That’s the man I want to pursue me next... a quality stalker please!

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A Grandmother's Love Leads to School for Disabled Children

She Couldn't Find the Right School for Her Grandson, So She Built Her Own.  Now that is LOVE!

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