Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

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Letting Life’s Transitions Lead to Extraordinary Destiny

Guest post by Caleb Anderson of Recovery Hope

Todays post is written by Caleb Anderson of Recovery Hope. The purpose of Recovery Hope website is to … give hope to those facing recovery from unhealthy addictions. We bring together stories, advice, and resources to help others on their journeys. 

Given many individuals with FASD struggle with addiction, I decided Caleb’s post would be a great addition to this blog. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an

extraordinary destiny.”  –C.S. Lewis

Transitions are an inevitable part of life, and each can feel magnificently positive or overwhelmingly painful, depending on the way we uniquely handle them. Whether you’re recently widowed or acclimating to an empty nest, expecting a baby or graduating college; all can seem daunting. Managing change will rely on your ability to be nimble and open to life’s new norms. Consider this…

Exercise and Meditation  

 Numerous studies link exercise to improved mental health. Consider incorporating:

  • Yoga – Licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner says, “yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships, and more.”
  • Aerobic Exercise – According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise is critical for maintaining mental fitness and stress reduction. They report it works by, “reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.”

Find Positive, Wherever Possible

There are numerous ways to keep your focus on the good, versus the negative.

  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Focus on your attributes by practicing positive self-talk.
  • Be thankful for what you do have. It’s easy, in a transitional moment, to think of all we have lost. Instead, try remembering what positive things still exist.
  • Reframe your change, by thinking what positive will come from it. If you’ve lost a spouse, for example, consider how nice it will be to downsize to a smaller home, perhaps on the waterfront, where you’ve always wanted to be.

Be Your Own Best Friend

Stephen Richards, author of Think Your Way to Success: Let Your Dreams Run Free, said “Before you can successfully make friends with others, first you have to become your own friend.” Times of transition are a good time to reacquaint yourself with yourself; after all, no one will be getting you through your change period, but you. Discover new things about yourself, consider changing habits that weigh you down, and learn to love the new emerging you.

The Importance of Your Environment

 Your home is likely where you spend the majority of time, and it contributes greatly to your sense of well-being.

  • Keep your room bright with both natural and artificial light. Light can improve both depression and anxiety.
  • A cluttered home can add to your stress and impact further behavior. If you come home to a messy home, you’re less likely to be motivated to hang up your coat, or put away new purchases.
  • Watch for negative emotional anchors, or things that weigh you down mentally. If you’re recently widowed make sure you keep around things that create positive memories, and avoid holding onto things that are triggers for sadness.

As you work through your transition, whatever it may be, try to remember that in this process there is plenty of positive. In other words, when one door closes and you’re waiting for the other to open, there’s plenty of room for personal growth in the hallways.  Here are some positive spins on what you’re experiencing.

It can make you stronger – Life’s changes each work in their own way to help us build resilience and coping skills.

It can help you re-prioritize – Frequently, the pressures around change can help us to gain new perspective forcing us to focus on new and exciting opportunities.

It can help you be a better version of you – Change and its link to positive personal growth have been scientifically proven. Perhaps, the most important part of any personal metamorphosis, is your willingness to learn from it.

When entering any of life’s transitions, one thing is sure, you won’t be the same person you were before the change, and that’s okay. Learn to accept it, and let go. Be thankful for where you’ve been, and where you’re going. And, relax; life’s new path leads to an “extraordinary destiny.”



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Hamilton ON ODSP Office.

The Appointment.

I’m sitting in the Hamilton, ON, ODSP office. My grandson has an appointment. Soon, he and his caseworker will walk in and join me. Meanwhile, I take in my surroundings. Cold and unwelcoming, the waiting area easily seats twenty, but only a handful of people surround me. Some sit patiently, others pace. Sitting by the entrance affords me a view of their comings and goings.

A man, I guess to be in his forties, approaches the entrance; his appearance unkempt, his shoes mismatched. Unsure of protocol, he nervously peers around.

A receptionist’s voice strikes the air. “Next!” A number lights up behind her.

Still in the entrance, the man raises his hand.

“Do you have a number?” she calls.

Unsure, he steps back.

“Do you have a number?” she repeats. Her tone is shrill.

He smiles uneasily.

A young woman in the chair next to mine interjects. “The numbers are outside the entrance,” she explains to the man. She points. “There, just behind you. Take one then take a seat and wait your turn.”

He nods in gratitude, takes a number, but remains standing.

“Next!” we hear again.

He strides forward, number in hand. Several people with lesser numbers protest.

“What number do you have?” the receptionist asks.

He looks at the ticket, but shakes his head. He’s unsure.

“Bring it here.” She looks at the number. “You are not next,” she snaps. “You are number 32.” She points to the number sign. “This number is 25. Sit down and wait your turn.”

Gingerly, he sits beside the young woman and waits. I hear her whisper. She tells him she will let him know when they call his number. My grandson and his support worker arrive. He hugs me, which is always nice, but a problem has arisen at reception #2. A young man has received a form to complete.

“Read it, and then sign here, here, and here,” the woman is saying, pointing a finger to each area.

“Where?” the young man asks.

“Here, here, and here!” she repeats.

Body language kicks in. I recognize the signs. The young man doesn’t read well. He most likely can’t sign his name. His eyes glaze over as he tries to think of ways to avoid explaining. Both hands press down hard into his jeans’ pockets. He bites his bottom lip.

“Take the form. Read it, and sign,” she repeats.

A kind voice interjects.  “Would you like some help,” it asks. “I have some free time.”

The young man looks up to see a twenty-something blonde who has just emerged from her office. He nods appreciatively. As she leads him to a corner of the room away from glaring eyes, two men stride into the office. Their voices are loud, their demeanor arrogant. They approach receptionist #1. She appears nervous and demands they leave.

“Not without our cheques!” one bellows.

“What do you mean—your cheques?” she asks.

“We are waiting for our fucking money!” says the other.

“You can’t come in here demanding money. You will have to leave!”

“Not until we get our money!”

“If you want to discuss your situation, you must phone the office to arrange an appointment.”

One of the guys strikes a fist hard into his palm. “What’s the fucking phone number?”

She hands him a business card. The other swears at her. They both leave. She calls security. Seconds later, a guard approaches reception. “They left in the elevator,” she explains. “But they might still be in the building.” The guard speaks into his phone.

Thirty minutes later, we are still waiting. The man’s number is finally called, but the young woman who was seated beside him has left. He anxiously raises his hand as if unsure it is his turn. Receptionist #2 checks his number.

“So, what can we do for you today?” she asks.

“I have an appointment.”

Surprise lights up her face. “You have an appointment? Why did you take a number? Didn’t you see the sign?”

He looks around him. She points to a sign taped to a wall beside her, which reads: IF YOU HAVE AN APPOINTMENT, DO NOT TAKE A NUMBER. COME TO RECEPTION AND CHECK IN.

“Well, you are too late, now,” she spits. “Your appointment was half an hour ago. You will have to call to reschedule.” The sign blinks–number 33. “Who is next?” she calls.

Overlooked, the man turns and leaves the office.

It was then I understood why so many people with disabilities are homeless. Many do not know how to read nor write. They don’t understand office protocol, nor the appropriate forms to complete, nor the requirements expected of them, so they believe funding is unavailable. Not all have support workers to help them, so they go without—no income, no home, no food, no clothing, and no dignity.

KATHLEEN WYNNE, it is time to transform Ontario’s ODSP offices

into places of respect, understanding, and support.

If YOU agree, please share this post.

“The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life . . . the children; those who are in the twilight of life . . . the elderly; and those who are in the shadow of life . . . the sick . . . the needy . . . and the disabled.”

— Hubert Humphrey

To discover how I learned to recognize the body language of people who have mental health disorders, join me at the following link and click on my two FASD memoirs and my children’s FASD picture book.