Many of us begin adult life with a path in mind. Some of us even have a specific five year plan, or some ambition we wish to accomplish. We’re all so used to planning our next steps that we often forget to enjoy the moment, to live one day at a time, and just see where life is meant to take us. Sometimes, it takes a curve ball to shake us, to wake us up, to turn our seemingly 'perfect' life upside down as a way to get us back on the right path.
What I’ve learned about curve balls in life is that they come when something needs to change. Our life is either headed in the wrong direction, or it's out of balance. Or maybe we need a wake-up call, or perhaps we're just receiving an opportunity to grow and surpass ourselves in some way.
Most of us don’t see the blessing in disguise when a curve ball hits, at least not right away; some of us don’t want to, because it wasn’t part of our plan. But, did you ever think that maybe what you had planned for yourself wasn’t necessarily the best plan for you? That where you thought you were meant to go, wasn’t where life was meant to take you? That maybe, there was a better plan for you? One you would have never dreamed of for yourself?
Sometimes, when we limit ourselves to the plans we’ve set, we miss out on beautiful opportunities to experience life in a different way, perhaps a better way.
Today’s blog is about one of my biggest curve balls in life: the birth of our daughter, Gabriela; she has atypical Rett Syndrome. This post is about how I came to realize that, although being the mom of a child with special needs wasn't part of my plan, it ended up being the greatest gift and blessing life could have sent my way.
How It All Started
Before Gabi came along, my husband and I had the 'typical' family life. We had a beautiful daughter, a chocolate lab, we both had good stable jobs. We lived in a material world – the big suburban home, the nice furniture… we had lots of 'stuff'.
I was a career driven woman; smart and talented, with lots of potential to move up the ranks in the workplace. I thought I had it all. I thought I was on the right path; that this was it, this was life. I thought I knew who I was, but really, I didn’t. I was living the life that I was 'supposed' to live, and no matter what small shifts I made to change things up, I just always felt incomplete in some way. It’s like I wasn’t living my life to the fullest, I merely just existed in it.
Then Gabi came along. She and I had an instant connection. Her energy alone was beautiful. I wanted to be around her all the time. It was only after a few months that we started seeing delays. Being the positive uplifting person that I am, I stayed optimistic, searched for every least serious possibility that could be causing the delays, not wanting to believe that something was really wrong. I was in denial. Like so many of us are at first. When I finally admitted to myself that Gabi's condition was something more, I self-referred her to our city's children’s treatment centre to get her assessed.
What a journey it's been since then. I went from knowing little about the medical world, to knowing more than I ever thought I could. Gabi took me on a path of new learning - I was doing it for her, but what I realized later is that she gave me an opportunity to broaden my horizons and expand my interests. Our family as a whole benefited from the healthy choices that came with adapting to Gabi’s needs.
With all the acquired information, we decided to take action and start exploring alternative therapies and approaches. And then began the travels.
We traveled across the US and Canada to see specialists for Gabi. I was ready to do anything to help her surpass her limits. We went to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Toronto... I wasn't going to stop until I found something that worked. It’s not until we came across the Anat Baniel Method® (ABM) NeuroMovement® that we really saw amazing shifts in Gabi’s development.
After completing her book, "Kids Beyond Limits", there was nothing stopping me from going to San Rafael to get an appointment with Anat herself.
We ended up going to the US several times to get ABM NeuroMovement® intensives, and after nine months of ABM therapy, I enrolled in the training to be able to help our daughter myself.
Like so many parents, I enrolled for Gabi. And, like most, I realized in the end that it was for me too. ABM is incredibly empowering. It not only enabled me to help our daughter surpass her limitations, but it also helped me release a lot of suppressed emotions that I had chosen not to deal with. Picture a corked bottle filled with inner child wounds, sadness, frustration, guilt, anger… the whole bit… now picture the cork popping off… how liberating to release it all. It sounds intense, and it was, but in a really beautiful way. It was through these slow subtle movements that I became more in tuned with myself, with my emotions, with who I am. I was beginning to feel more like myself than I'd ever felt. I felt lighter, more at peace.
ABM not only helps our kids enhance their physical, cognitive, emotional and creative performance, but it also helps us parents heal and rediscover who we are. It's easy to get wrapped up in our role as parents. It can easily become our whole world... and slowly we start to forget about ourselves. ABM helped me reconnect with myself; but not the version of me that everyone wanted me to be, the ‘real’ me. You see, I had been living a life that really wasn’t what I wanted at all – and slowly, this journey was leading me on the path to discovering my purpose.
The Career Switch
I never thought I would become an ABM practitioner. I was strictly doing the training for Gabi. I was a data nerd; I loved dashboards and analyzing charts. How could I possibly learn to be good enough at this work to make a career of it? Well, I did learn, and I started to like it. I started to like the feeling of being able to help people in such a personal way. I finally found something that made me feel like I was making a difference and that meant a lot to me - it meant the world to me actually.
As early as my late teens, I felt like I was meant to do something amazing, something that would make a difference for people in some way… but I didn’t quite know what. I went from business school, to studying fashion in Italy, to working in Montreal, to going back to studying to figure out what I was meant to do in this life. To my surprise, the birth of our daughter with special needs was the turning point that would lead me to wake up and get on the path to true self-discovery. Loving her unconditionally and giving my whole self to her, the people I crossed paths with, and the events that occurred as a result of her existence helped me find the missing pieces in my life. I finally felt like I was on the right track. It’s not until we had our first practicum with children in training though that I knew for sure I was meant to do this work. There was just something about these kids that made my heart light up. All I could think of was how beautiful they were.
Gabi changed my life. Because of her, I developed a whole new appreciation for children with special needs. The thing that some people don’t seem to see is how incredibly beautiful these kids hearts are, so pure, so kind. All of them have amazing abilities that most people look past, or don’t see.
Every day, I count my blessings. Gabi helped me open my heart to a whole other level. She showed me what the true meaning of life was about… it’s not about accumulating 'stuff', or success in your career. Life is about opening our hearts and following its calling. It’s about living with passion, not just existing. It’s about kindness, unconditional love, and compassion. It’s about being authentic and real, and living in our truth. It’s about being of service to others, all the while being kind to ourselves. Whatever makes our hearts light up… that’s what life is about. And these kids - they make my heart sing.
I refer to Gabi as my angel. I adore her more than I could ever put into words. I will do everything in my power to help her reach her full potential, whatever that may be, but in no way do I ever intend on imposing on her what’s not meant for her. I love Gabi just as she is. I love the sounds she makes to communicate with others, I love her random movements when she gets happy and excited, I love her ability to change people around her for the better, I love how her presence can shift a person's heart, I love the vibes she puts out. Just in being, Gabi has an impact on people's lives every day.
Our special needs kids have a purpose here on earth just as we all do. We're all connected in some way. These kids shift us, they make us better people. They bring more kindness into the world. They open our hearts. And that is precisely why I have chosen to serve them as part of my career going forward. They have the kindest, purest hearts I have ever come across – and that has been a breath of fresh air for me.
A Bit of Wisdom
So there it is; my biggest curve ball in life.
I went from living in my head, to living in my heart. From trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be, and living to meet others' expectations, to discovering my authentic self and feeling good about who I am and where I'm going.
Gabi has been a teacher for me. She taught me to live one day at a time, and to enjoy the moment. She taught me gratitude and compassion. She helped me see the world and the people in it in a completely different way.
Today, I see beauty in everyone I meet. I see the good in all situations. I live in my heart and soul, and as a result, I am happier than I've ever been. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced a lot of challenges in the last few years, but I’ve come out stronger and wiser. All of these experiences have helped me grow into who I am meant to be, and I'm grateful for each and every one of them, however painful they might have been. I will forever and always be the girl dancing in her car, laughing at silly things and just making the best out of life – one day at time. Happiness is a choice after all.
Our lives are so precious, there’s so much beauty all around us, so much to discover and appreciate. Why not be open to another perspective? Why not be open to a different way of life, a new challenge, a new project? Why not get out of our comfort zone and try something different? Why not let our hearts lead the way for once?
In the end, remember that everything happens for a reason. It’s up to us to figure out why certain events occurred. There’s a silver lining in every situation in life – and if we’re open to receiving the hidden blessing, it can be the most beautiful curve ball we’ll ever come across.