Today is Day 20 of my 31 Days of Self-Love posts to celebrate Self-Love Month with suggestions for jump-starting your own self-love.
Many people have a tough time doing what it can take to build self-love, even when they’re on their own. When you don’t have a heavy obligation to anyone else, it’s less hard to turn your focus onto yourself. But when you’re caring for a family or elderly parents or other ongoing obligations, giving yourself love can not only take a back seat, it can end up locked up in the trunk, with the key lost in caring for your loved ones. If you don’t look for it, it may stay lost.
But no matter what’s going on, you can find your own personal version of self-love if you look. That’s why I’m thrilled that my guest today is Kim Stagliano, a nationally recognized autism advocate and speaker who has three daughters with full-blown autism. Kim is managing editor of Age oif Autism and writes for The Huffington Post, The Autism File magazine, and Spectrum Magazine. A former sales and marketing executive, she is lovingly raising her daughters. Kim is also the author of All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa (A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism), a funny, poignant, and inspirational memoir of her experience raising her girls.
I asked Kim to share how she can have her own self-love amidst the chaos of focusing on her autistic daughters. Like with reading her book, you will feel all the love she has for her family, and her unique perspective of self-love in a world that doesn’t leave much time for yourself. Here’s what she had to say:
by Kim Stagliano
I sat down with a hot cup of coffee to write about self-love. My first task was to find a definition, so I Googled “Self-love.” Then I stopped.
Did I dare open any of the links? I’ve learned the icky way that not every Google search results in a website that’s decent to open. Especially one called “Self-love.” Assured that Lance Armstrong’s site would be safe, I clicked and read a laundry list of do’s and don’t for how to love and accept yourself.
I do not like laundry lists.
I am the mother of three beautiful young ladies with autism. Mia, my oldest is turning 16 in December. Bella, my youngest just turned 10. The cream in our Oreo cookie is Gianna, who is 14. If you know anything about parenting a child with autism, you know that it brings unique challenges and in my case, with three affected children, I have to be 24/7 Mama shark, circling the entire ocean on the lookout for anything and everything because Murphy’s law is Kim’s law.
I barely have time for laundry, let alone a laundry list of self-help tips.
Self-love to me is borne of confidence and a feeling that you are making progress, moving forward. It doesn’t mean forgetting the past, although we all have memories that we need to let go. Heck, I listen to the Frank Sinatra Channel on Sirius-XM most of the day. My website design, www.kimstagliano.com, is fully retro. And I have a lifetime of wonderful memories I draw on to create a roadmap of my own. I have no problem with “the past.”
So how have I learned to love myself? That’s easy: I forgot about myself.
That doesn’t mean I let myself go to rack and ruin physically, emotionally or spiritually. Sure, there are days when my hair looks like a bird’s nest in a windstorm or I’m a weepy “woe is me” mess. I’ve had my fair share of angry conversations with God too.
But I’ve found that by naturally immersing myself in both the autism community and my family’s well being, I’m able to let go of my own worries to a large degree. The feedback of watching my kids have even the tiniest success, like when Mia gets off the bus, looks me squarely in the eye and says, “It’s the Mom!” or when Bella signs “I want” pounding her little hand on her chest, it creates a pool of satisfaction that translates directly into self love. The other day, Gianna, who was virtually silent at age three announced to her father and me, “I’m certainly ready to go to school and see friends.” Oh how we laughed! It felt great.
The saying “God helps those who help themselves” is wise counsel. But God also helps those who help others. At least that’s what I’ve found. That’s why most of my work is within the autism community – my peeps. We’re can be disparate community, for sure. There are many opinions about treatment, recovery and cause. But at the end of the day, I know that almost any Mom in the autism world would reach out to help me, and I to her. That’s pretty cool.
Raising a family has been completely different for my husband Mark and me as compared to the typical family. We may never send a child off to college (not by choice) and the girls’ adulthood may not include leaving the nest to fully independent lives. It’s been a real challenge to prepare myself for our version of growing old. But I’ve learned to trust myself and yes, to love myself enough to know that Mark and I will always do our best for Mia, Gianna and Bella.
It would be easy to feel the sting of “nevers, won’ts, can’ts” that come with having three kids with ASD. And sometimes I do. But overall, my girls have given me the gift of self-love through service, compassion and care.
After all, their success is my success.
And I love that.
Now about that mountain of laundry calling to me…
Check out Kim Stagliano‘s book, All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa (A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism), fora great read and inspiration. I especially recommend it for parents of autistic kids. Learning to laugh at your tough situations can help you get through them, which is a great act of self-love!
Take the self-love challenge and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. And you can post your loving acts HERE to reinforce your intention to love yourself.
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