Looking back, feeling grateful, letting go…

The beginning of this year seems like 11 years ago rather than 11 months ago. For you too? Looking back, I’m awestruck at the roller coaster of emotions and ever-changing events we encountered as the months progressed. 2020 has truly been a year unlike no other.

In January, I blogged about how I wanted to just “be” this year; taking one day at a time, one week at a time and one month at a time. I wanted to just “be” calm, mindful, hopeful, blessed or whatever the moment and feeling presented. Now, here we are in November, almost at the end of this year. Those desires I had at the beginning of the year manifested themselves in so many different ways. Did I always succeed at “being?” Probably not. But, I am welcoming November. It is always one of my favorite months of the year with Thanksgiving and the opportunity to be grateful and thankful. So this year, even though we are still dealing with all the challenges of COVID, the unknowns and shut downs, I continue to be grateful and be thankful.

I have had a lot of time to reflect this year. I think back to when I first considered starting my website, blog and newsletter back some 7 years ago. I wanted to create a simple and easy way to bring the ASD community together. From my own experience, I knew navigating and finding information and resources was a challenge, often time consuming and expensive. And so while I knew I had a wealth of knowledge to share, I had moments of doubt about the effort and time commitment. I had so much going on with Maci. Could I really commit to building a community?

As I struggled with my decision, I recalled the time we had Maci scheduled for a colonoscopy.  We can all agree that procedure is no fun for anyone, so it was not something I was looking forward to.  But, Maci was having with her gastrointestinal system and we needed to rule out a number of things. The procedure went well and I sat with her in the recovery room while waiting for her to wake up.

I remember the nurse with her was very kind and we started making small talk. She asked me about Maci – she knew about her ASD diagnosis as it was in her chart.  The nurse told me about a little boy who lived next door. She thought he was probably Autistic but had not been assessed or given a diagnosis. His mother was a single mom, working and struggling to get by with a son who was having many challenges. I was struck by this caring woman, trying to help them and do what she could. She asked me several questions and seemed to be so interested in what we were doing with Maci. She asked how she could find more information. Instinctively, I started to write down names, organizations and give her the information and resources I hoped would help. I remember thinking in that moment, that I wished I had a website that I could refer her to. Some place I trusted to have great information and resources, that was easy to access and wasn’t cost prohibitive.

In that doubtful period seven years ago, I thought about all the people who had helped us on our journey with Maci. I was so grateful for the information and referrals we got from so many people we met. Had I not met the people I did, and had they not shared the information they did, we would not be where we are today. Again, so grateful and thankful. I knew what I had to do. I let go of my doubts. I focused on what I needed to do. 

I could list many other situations and experiences brought me to the place of creating MAP – maciandpebble.com. I am happy with how MAP has grown to include valuable information and resources. But, my dream is for MAP to become a place for people to share their information – an interactive site. I started by sharing and talking about our information and experiences.  As the site develops, it is my desire and great hope is others will begin to share too. 

Through MAP, we can bring new opportunities, hope and togetherness in navigating this journey. Maybe one of the bright takeaways from COVID is the realization that we are all in this together.  Whether you have a loved one with ASD, work with those who do or know people who do. ASD touches all of our lives. 

Please use MAP as the vehicle for you, your loved ones, your community to get answers and peace of mind in coping with ASD. Whenever anyone says how do I find ASD information?  Answer, MAP it. How do I find ASD resources in my community? Answer, MAP it.  How did you know what doctor was the right one for your loved one with ASD? Answer, MAP it. 

And share with us. Send me an email sharing your resources and experiences. Join our Facebook group to interact with others navigating the spectrum. Become a part of the MAP community by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

We are stronger together. We can face challenges and improve our quality of life if we share. Please join me.

Marikay Cuthill is mother of Maci, a vibrant, curious 15-year-old on the Autism Spectrum, and the founder of Maci And Pebble, a community dedicated to helping people navigate autism by finding answers, direction and peace of mind. Learn more at www.maciandpebble.com

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