"We are all wanderers on this earth...our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams." ~ Gypsy proverb

Friday, September 20, 2013


I worked for 8 years as an occupational therapist before I had my own children. And those 8 years have marked me in such a way, leaving me to believe that sometimes trying to change a person, even when our intentions are best, is not the answer. I watched children struggle deeply with the knowledge that who they were pushed jaggedly against the grain of normal, and that to try to change to be more "acceptable" was the monster that haunted their dreams and hid under their beds. I saw children in therapy year after year whose progress was questionable against the regular development of age and experience. I met parents, frustrated, distraught, angry, and exhausted for and with their child, and with a health and educational system that did little to help or accept them. And then, I began to receive adults as clients. This, I believe, is what cemented permanently for me the belief that I would never be able to "fix" anybody, not in the way that parents with their pleading eyes wanted me to.  I met future versions of my pediatric clients in the adults, with the same kinds of sensory processing difficulties, but with years more experience in living and dealing with them. Most have been mis-diagnosed their entire lives, most were on medication of some sort just to manage. Some were managing their lives to the best of their ability, and some not at all, going in and out of therapy. In all of these clients, the compounding affliction was the same--the demolition or stunted growth of self-esteem, and the devastating knowledge that "normal" was an ideal they could never attain. After seeing all of this and being a part of these people's lives for just a short time, my conclusion was undeniable. More than anything, these people, these wonderfully unique yet tortured personalities needed acceptance. They needed unconditional love and assurance, from those around them and mostly from themselves, that they were perfect exactly the way they were.

I should be clear here in saying that therapy of all kinds can be beneficial to those who want it, and to those who have healthy expectations of what therapy can provide. As a parent of a child that does not swim with the current, I often do feel helpless at the struggles my daughter faces. I have urges all the time to want to "fix" her, mostly to save her from the emotional challenges she faces daily. With all the knowledge and experience I possessed as a sensory integration specialist, I balk now at my ineffectiveness with my daughter in that role. I was good at what I did then, but feelings of helplessness often mingle with the feelings of failure and I can't stop wondering what on earth was all my training for if not to help my daughter.


My call is not what it was 10 years ago. I have changed so much from that eager "I can fix people with my super sleek skills" therapist I was then. I have evolved from that cocoon into the role of my life as mother. I seek light and air, crave the underlying, hidden story that each soul possesses. The mother I am is keen to feelings and guided by intuition, no matter how gut-wrenching that can be at times.  I have given up statistics and studies, odds, "practice makes perfect" thinking for a kinder, gentler, and more respectful way into what ails a human heart. And usually, that ailment is the belief that they aren't good enough, and that they will never be good enough.

I do know this to be true, that I am a far better mother than I ever was an occupational therapist, that I am far more invested in the emotional well-being of my daughter than in her performing "acceptably" against norms that change with every tide, with every moon. I am grateful that my experiences as a sensory integration therapist have given me the gift of understanding, of *seeing* my daughter for who she is, and perhaps that was the intention for that part of my life all along.  She is the candle that flickers in a windless room and I can celebrate that without needing to find a cause or an explanation. My role is not to fix, change, mold, alter, but to support, uplift, shelter, comfort, and guide. The preservation of her beautiful, artistic and authentic soul, buttressed by self-acceptance and self-love, and by the unconditional love of those around her, that is why I am here.

For those that also have a child or loved one that walks a different path, may love, patience, and acceptance keep your purpose clear, and may countless rows of flickering candles light your way...



  1. Ooooooh MJ! So beautiful. I relished in your words I can relate on many levels. This was very inspiring to me and I thank you for sharing your love today. It will help me to open my heart more.

    1. I am so glad this spoke to you Anushka--much love to you and your beautiful family!! xoxox

  2. I have no words...this is beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. oh, I so hear you. I often wonder why we as a society can't be more accepting. it's all about minority groups and political correctness these days which often causes more resentment than acceptance. but be that as it may, as much progress as we have made with these groups, we still can't accept our friends or neighbours or people from down the street if they're just slightly different. I often have difficulties for being an introvert. I have friends and friends whose kids have much more severe issues (for lack of a better word), and they are running against walls all the time. do you think this will ever get better? I do think in certain circles acceptance, tolerance and understanding are growing. I'm just not sure if it's enough. or if it's just wishful thinking?

  4. I while ago I read a similar story, (can't think where now) but the child was expected to fit in with the 'norm', the couple had to question their own expectations and really look at what made their child come alive, they had to throw all their expectations away to allow him to fully be...

    Such a heart post! x

  5. okay, that just made me cry.

    oh, sweet MJ....how your words are a balm to this mother's soul. in my heart of hearts i know that we have chosen the right path for our star-boy...the path you describe --of love, support, guidance, shelter, belonging. not the path that therapizes and normalizes....my heart just knew that wasn't for us, or him. and i can say without a doubt, that he is the loving, joy-full child he is because we didn't push and pull and prod, but let him simply Be.

    i know it's not the same for everyone...and i always respect and honour the choices a parent makes from love...but it sure is nice to hear words that support "our side" ;)

    much love to you, beautiful soul...you are a blessed light in this world.


  6. thanks for this wonderful reflection! I have worked with a bunch of OTs over the years and admire their help with sensory integration. you are right about adults being more accepting and sensitive to all of our uniqueness

  7. you are amazing..
    thank you
    I have walked the fix him road with my son..he is now 19
    every "failure" was a gift...no I could not see it at the time
    but know one has or ever will teach me as he does
    no one stretches me...no one moves me as he does
    he is his own bird...and oh how beautiful and magnificent is he!!!

    I walk this road with you sister

    love and light

  8. You are a beautiful and wise light. It is sad that we live in a world of "norms" and "standards", that those who push just a little out of the boundaries are scolded and told to conform. Our trueness gets lost. I understand, I was always on the outside, still am. It is a struggle to be true in this world. My recent revelation has been that I am not the one who is different, the world is and I need to be patient with it. People just haven't caught up to me. Wishing you and your daughter every blessing! xoxo

  9. MJ, this post pulls at my heart. I have so loved witnessing your journey of motherhood these past several years...and this honesty and openness is what makes you such a special writer. You put to words what others cannot seem to...

    Thank you. This will stay with me for some time I believe.


  10. Thank you for this heart-felt post. Your words have a depth and beauty that I can relate to.


“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~ George Bernard Shaw