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Ep 15: Here Are the Things We’re Most Grateful to Have Learned on Our Neurodiverse Parenting Journey

We have so much to be grateful for, and what better time to acknowledge that than with Thanksgiving just on the horizon?

Since expressing gratitude is essential to our health and happiness, especially as parents of neurodiverse children, we’re on a mission to be more intentional with how we recognize all the things we have to be thankful for each and every day — whether they’re obvious, a little quirky, or even a bit of a stretch!

In today’s episode, we’re covering everything from letting go of control, to practicing greater compassion, to embracing all life’s challenges.

If it has been a while since you’ve taken a moment to reflect, or the chaos of daily life has felt a little too all-consuming lately, you’re in the right place. Join us as we slow down for just a few minutes to call out our favorite blessings.

Also, don’t miss The Last Word. Rylan and Reagan share the things that they’re grateful for as well! Enjoy!

In this episode, you’ll learn...

  • [10:46] That we can’t control every outcome and why that’s perfectly okay

  • [17:53] How we’ve expanded our understanding of what it means to be human

  • [22:08] Why fitting in is overrated and the advantages of being your true self

  • [26:12] The power of community and sharing your experience with others

  • [29:18] How struggle can be a gift that makes your stronger

If you just can't get enough of us, don’t forget to join our newsletter and check out our other projects.

Links mentioned in this episode…

The Living Spectrum

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

Wintering by Katherine May

Transcript for "Ep 15: The Obvious, the Quirky, Even the Implausible: Here Are the Things We’re Grateful For from Our Neurodiverse Parenting Journey"

[00:00:06] Gwen: Do you have an appreciation for honest and sometimes irreverent conversations about parenting and walking alongside humans with neurodiversity? You're in the right place. I'm Gwen. [00:00:17][11.0]

[00:00:18] Kristen: And I'm Kristen. And together we have decades of experience parenting fiercely amazing neurodiverse humans, as well as teaching, writing, advocating and consulting. All of this has provided us with an endless supply of stories of inspiring failures and heartbreaking wins. [00:00:33][15.6]

[00:00:35] Gwen: Welcome to "You Don't Want a Hug, Right?". We promise to come at you each episode as our true selves, sharing the hilarity and delight in the midst of the heart of our journeys. Most importantly, though, we hope to remind you of your immense value as a human being outside of the parenting role that you play. [00:00:54][19.9]

[00:00:56] Kristen: So grab a cozy blanket and a beverage and go hide in the closet nearest you. [00:01:00][4.0]

[00:01:03] Gwen: What up, my friend? [00:01:04][0.6]

[00:01:05] Kristen: Hi, Gwen. [00:01:06][0.3]

[00:01:07] Gwen: Listen, don't be alarmed by my off the shoulder situation I have going today. [00:01:12][4.3]

[00:01:12] Kristen: I feel like there's a little bit of Flashdance going on. [00:01:15][2.3]

[00:01:15] Gwen: There is. And there are leggings to boot. [00:01:18][2.1]

[00:01:18] Kristen: Oh, my gosh. [00:01:18][0.4]

[00:01:19] Gwen: To the point where my daughter said. Are you wearing leggings? I said, I am. She said, You look like a teenager. Oh. So I did a little jig as teens do. [00:01:31][11.8]

[00:01:32] Kristen: And she vomited in her mouth a little bit. [00:01:34][1.7]

[00:01:34] Gwen: She might have smiled. That's a real win, isn't it? It is a win. Mm hmm. Do you want to share with other listeners about your. How shall we describe it? Mm hmm. Was it like a rolling hill experience this past week, or was it more like a mountain peak in a deep valley and a canyon? [00:01:55][20.7]

[00:01:56] Kristen: It was kind of like bumper cars or whiplash or just something a little bit more violent than rolling hills, I think. Yeah. Yeah. [00:02:05][8.7]

[00:02:06] Gwen: It was a week. You're probably right. [00:02:07][1.0]

[00:02:07] Kristen: Yeah. I mean, there are times when having triplets, you really feel it. And in years of transition, you really feel it. And we had a week. Everybody was changing their minds. Not sure that they should be in college. Why are they even alive? Who are we? What are we doing? Maybe we just need to come home and regroup as an entire family. And so lots of people changing their plans, pivoting then changing their minds about changing their plans. It was nuts and stuff. [00:02:39][32.1]

[00:02:41] Gwen: Are you sure you're just not a little too sensitive? [00:02:42][1.5]

[00:02:44] Kristen: I might just be a little too sensitive. [00:02:44][0.7]

[00:02:46] Gwen: Yeah. You did have all three in your living room at one point, right? [00:02:50][3.6]

[00:02:51] Kristen: I did. And Gwen is referring to them sitting right in front of my chair. One child was sitting next to me. The other child pulled up the ottoman to sit right next to me. And then the third child was just right there and. [00:03:04][13.5]

[00:03:05] Gwen: All talking at the same time. [00:03:07][1.3]

[00:03:08] Kristen: Very loudly, I might add, very loudly. And I was with them for about 7 minutes before I decided it was okay for them to go back to their domiciles. [00:03:18][10.3]

[00:03:21] Gwen: Define domiciles, please. [00:03:22][1.1]

[00:03:24] Kristen: To their apartments. [00:03:25][0.8]

[00:03:26] Gwen: Okay. Yeah. I don't know. And domiciles me. And so I just thought I'd clarify that for the rest of the audience that isn't a linguist. Oh my goodness. [00:03:36][9.8]

[00:03:37] Kristen: Well, it was it was a challenging week. So thanks for thinking of me, everyone. It's just going to be fine. [00:03:43][5.9]

[00:03:44] Gwen: Yeah, I do think I use the word whiplash with you multiple times this past week. [00:03:48][3.9]

[00:03:48] Kristen: You did. [00:03:49][0.7]

[00:03:50] Gwen: Because I felt whiplash just by your narration of your week. But here we are, smiling. Yeah. And moving on. [00:03:58][8.5]

[00:03:59] Kristen: Moving on. [00:03:59][0.4]

[00:04:00] Gwen: Moving on. [00:04:00][0.3]

[00:04:01] Kristen: Do you have a good Rylan ism for us today? [00:04:03][2.0]

[00:04:04] Gwen: I do. I explained this to Kristen earlier today, but we're recording this just the day before Halloween. And so as we speak right now, my children are in my kitchen destroying any semblance of sanity that I have in there because they're each having four friends over for Halloween, which I just let happen, because the fact that my children both have four friends. Well, that's just otherworldly. It's otherworldly. And a year ago, I couldn't have even imagine that happening. So he is making a very long, like, eight foot banner right now of D and D, and I don't know what's on it. I haven't looked yet, but he's very busily drying on the floor, yelling at the dog for stepping on it. And Reagan made her banner and they're hanging balloons on the ceiling. And anyway, so he naturally, as one does, he's making gift bags for his friends for Halloween. And there's been so much conversation around said gift bags that this morning I was like I can't handle one more conversation about the gift bag contents. And I know there's this one other thing that he needs to add mini figs from D and D. [00:05:28][84.8]

[00:05:28] Kristen: Mini figs like fig trees? [00:05:30][1.4]

[00:05:31] Gwen: Oh, no. Oh. [00:05:33][2.1]

[00:05:34] Kristen: Like figures? [00:05:34][0.3]

[00:05:35] Gwen: Yes! [00:05:35][0.0]

[00:05:38] Kristen: I was like picturing that you went and got mini fig trees. [00:05:40][1.3]

[00:05:41] Gwen: Can you imagine the ludicrously if he put a mini fig tree in his bags, which by the way their gift bags are just whole foods grocery bags. But because he had so much shit that I couldn't fit in the regular prescribed gift bags. Okay. I couldn't imagine talking about the mini figs one more time. So I just drove my ass over to galactic toys this morning right when they opened and bought two boxes of mini figs and I picked him up from school today. The first thing he said? Guess. Guess the first thing he said. [00:06:17][35.9]

[00:06:17] Kristen: Mom, are we going to go get those mini figs? Those mini fig trees? [00:06:20][3.2]

[00:06:21] Gwen: Indeed. That is what he said. And you know what I was able to say? [00:06:25][3.6]

[00:06:26] Kristen: Already done. [00:06:26][0.5]

[00:06:27] Gwen: They're at home. [00:06:27][0.5]

[00:06:28] Kristen: Oh, that's a moment. That is a moment. [00:06:30][2.2]

[00:06:31] Gwen: And it was worth it. It was worth it. Was I super annoyed as I drove there? Yes. But. Yes, that is my Rylan ism for the morning. Do you have any extra Gram isms or do you feel like recapping your week was enough for this week? [00:06:49][17.7]

[00:06:49] Kristen: You know, I just have one quick one that I think sums up just how I'm feeling this week. Graham said to me, we were talking and we said something at the same time, and I said, Jinx. And Graham just shook his head and kind of chuckled to himself. And he said, Oh, mom, no one says that anymore. [00:07:10][20.8]

[00:07:11] Gwen: Oh, okay. [00:07:12][0.5]

[00:07:13] Kristen: I didn't know you were a master of colloquialism. [00:07:15][2.0]

[00:07:18] Gwen: That's another big word. I mean, two for two. Two for two. Okay, friends, this episode, Thanksgiving is approaching and the holiday in and of itself I really struggle with just for what I've been told Thanksgiving is and what I've always believed it to be. But outside of the celebration of this holiday, we just wanted to focus on. Some themes or things or experiences that we are actually really grateful and thankful for that. Back in the day when we were really experiencing these things in the heart of them. Couldn't have possibly thought that we would feel gratefulness or thankfulness for. Mm hmm. So we have each spent quite a bit of time thinking through our own lists of what those are, and we're going to share those with you today. [00:08:20][62.3]

[00:08:21] Kristen: We are. And, you know, just from a research perspective, we know that gratitude is actually one of the most powerful, powerful experiences that you can have. Right. It's a game changer when you are practicing experienced gratitude. Now, the caveat to that is we didn't feel this way for a really long time. Folks like maybe last week we started feeling this way. [00:08:48][26.6]

[00:08:49] Gwen: Well, two weeks. [00:08:50][0.9]

[00:08:51] Kristen: Okay, maybe two weeks ago. So if you're in the throes of it and you can't fathom having gratitude, we're going to share a little bit with you today. [00:08:58][7.0]

[00:08:59] Gwen: Yeah. And I think thank you for that data point, because it is absolutely true that it changes the chemicals in your brain when you pause to experience gratitude. I did learn not the big gratitude items that we're talking today, but I did learn probably 5 to 6 years ago how to just start making a list of little moments that I could point to each day that had nothing to do with my role as a mom or our family's experience that I could just be like, Oh, that bird landed right on that bridge and looked right at me. [00:09:35][36.2]

[00:09:36] Kristen: Yeah, absolutely. [00:09:36][0.5]

[00:09:38] Gwen: And that has been a huge game changer for me. [00:09:40][2.5]

[00:09:41] Kristen: Yeah, on a micro level and a macro level, when you're looking back at your experience and thinking about really, it also comes down to meaning making, right? Why are we having the experience we're having? And I think we all engage in that to some degree. And when we're thinking about our families and the challenges that we've experienced, that that activity of reframing and thinking about in a different way is really healing, in my opinion. Even if you didn't feel that way in the moment or for years, but when you really think about why you've been having the experience you have and what it could mean for you as a human being and how you impact others, I just think it's an important activity. So here we go. [00:10:26][45.1]

[00:10:28] Gwen: Here we go. Do you want to lead us off with your first. Your first point? [00:10:31][3.9]

[00:10:32] Kristen: My first point is that drum roll, please. [00:10:35][2.7]

[00:10:39] Gwen: Spoiler alert. You mean that literally? [00:10:40][1.5]

[00:10:41] Kristen: No, I didn't. But thank you for that. [00:10:43][1.4]

[00:10:43] Gwen: You're welcome. Thank you for that. You're welcome. [00:10:45][1.7]

[00:10:46] Kristen: I can't control every outcome. And I think when our kids are little, we think if we just work hard enough, if we get the right services, if we teach them enough, if we say it enough times, if we get the right equipment, doctor, therapy, interventions, whatever it is that we can control the outcome for our kids. And I mean, I don't want to say that we don't influence it because clearly we do. But ultimately, we can't control it. It'll change, it'll grow. It'll evolve all their lives, whether we do something or not. But ultimately, there are too many variables outside of our control. So, I mean, access to care. Not everybody has access to care. Cultural beliefs. Symptom severity. Like what are we talking about? How challenged are our children trying to be okay in the world? Biology. Chemistry. How our brains are wired. Like we can do the best we can, but we have to let go of the expectations to a degree. And I think the trick really comes in how you treat yourself. How do you take care of yourself once you realize that you don't have the level of control you thought you did? Because I, I think in in times past, I've really spun out. Okay, maybe this week a little bit, too. It's really easy to spin out when you recognize, oh, my gosh, I've done everything I can possibly think of. And my fears have been realized. This transition to adulthood is still really effing hard, no matter how much I put into it. And no matter who you think you are or how experienced you think you are or who you've connected yourself with, it's still hard. [00:12:29][102.6]

[00:12:30] Gwen: Yeah. [00:12:30][0.0]

[00:12:31] Kristen: No way around it. [00:12:31][0.7]

[00:12:32] Gwen: And those things that we do can help alleviate some of the hardness. Yeah. But the outcome, it's just. It's madness. Trying to tell ourselves that we can control the outcome. [00:12:46][14.3]

[00:12:47] Kristen: Yeah. And I think all parents experience that. And I think it's, you know, like, so many things really intense for our families because the stakes feel just inconceivably high. And we think, oh my gosh, if this kid isn't crushing it in college or if this other kid isn't working this amount, or if they're not on the track for whatever we've told ourselves about what success looks like, then we're failing and they're failing. And guys, it just it just doesn't work that way. [00:13:21][33.7]

[00:13:22] Gwen: Yeah, that's a great one. [00:13:23][1.7]

[00:13:24] Kristen: Thanks. Thanks, Gwen. [00:13:25][1.3]

[00:13:26] Gwen: I definitely would say that's one of mine, too, but mine started with my infertility. And so that is my first one is a level of gratitude for infertility. And that's not to say that there's not a lot of grief. Still, there will always be grief around the fact that I have never been pregnant and I never will be because I don't have a actual uterus anymore. So please don't send me messages that say once you stop trying, you'll get pregnant or God has a plan. Just don't. Please just don't. [00:14:07][41.3]

[00:14:08] Kristen: No with the God has a plan. [00:14:08][0.8]

[00:14:09] Gwen: Please. No. No fallopian tubes, no uterus. Okay? [00:14:12][3.0]

[00:14:12] Kristen: No Jesus taking the wheel. [00:14:13][1.1]

[00:14:14] Gwen: It's just. No, no, it's not going to happen. But I couldn't have possibly imagined in the throes of that journey that I would be grateful for any of it, because it was all consuming and years of poking and prodding and timed sex and no results. I mean, I was never I never had a positive stick. So but now I look at that and I wouldn't trade that. The complexity and the layers of experience and growth and falling flat on my face in order to follow a different path which has just led to the life that I'm living now and the level of deconstruction that I've done in so many areas of my life would have never happened. [00:15:01][46.9]

[00:15:02] Kristen: Say more about that. What do you mean by levels of deconstruction? [00:15:03][2.0]

[00:15:05] Gwen: I mean, I have deconstructed everything that I thought I was supposed to do. You know, I got married right out of college, which was the way in the culture that I grew up in. And Tim and I, now we're like, Oh, we had no business getting married. We were babies who had no idea that there was hard in the world. We had not experienced a lot of difficulty in our upbringings and the fertility thing hit. We were like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I mean, we had it timed that I was going to get pregnant this time, and that really just rocked us. And maybe we would have done things differently now that we're older and more mature. But that deconstruction started with that, like, Whoa, this isn't what everybody said is supposed to happen, and you find yourself pretty alone because there's really not a lot of women out there who have never been pregnant. There's just not, statistically speaking. I know a few, but it's a pretty lonely place to be in. And that just kind of led me and Tim down paths of like, well, what else are we assuming should be our paths that isn't? Well Rylan was our next case in point. And that just kept going and going like, okay, so we adopted that wasn't what we thought, but okay, this is great. We can work with this. And then, oh, he's, he's really not fitting in, namely to the Christian environment we were in, which then led to okay public school. Oh, people that are different, people that think differently. Oh, okay. Well, what else are we assuming we know that we don't? And it hasn't stopped. It's still going. But that has turned into the thing I'm the most grateful for, which stemmed from that infertility, peace and just the letting go of control slowly, incrementally. It wasn't like overnight, but. Right. Infertility was that first piece of like when you have no control. Over what this path is going to look like. And as soon as I let go of that, then the adoption doors opened and we had Rylan three months later. Wow. But yeah, I'm still learning and deconstructing all the things that I thought were what I was going to do and how I was going to be and the family I would have. But I let go of control. That is not something I struggle with anymore. So I would agree with you that that is a huge, huge piece in our journey, too. So that's my first one. It's good. Yeah. [00:17:53][167.8]

[00:17:53] Kristen: I think that leads me into my second, which is that this parenting journey has taught me to have compassion and expanded my understanding of just what it means to be a human. I think I really had a narrow view of who I was and who I wanted to be before my kids. I was so focused on education, as you know, so focused on career. I didn't take as much time to understand people that were different from me. I loved looking at things from different perspectives, but that's different than really looking at somebody having a different experience than you. I spent a lot of my twenties, I think, really trying to fit in and prove myself, prove to myself that I could be successful. I had a, you know, a lot of challenges in my childhood and my growing up years. And I think. Really looking for education to be my armor so that I could I could overcome statistics. I could be a winner in my own eyes and in the eyes of other people. I was really focused on that. I think I was more of a late bloomer in a culture that really glorifies early bloomers. Right. So I had to overcome a lot of things and really work through some things before I could be successful in those more traditional ways, I suppose. And my kids, they they're constantly teaching me to question norms and definitions of what's typical or what's success, and not just for them, but for myself. You know, I used to really beat myself up about being more introverted. Right. And really force myself to be participating in a way I see everybody around me doing. I should want to hang out with people, but I would really actually actually rather be by myself for large portions of the day. And I think we heard it on Glennon Doyle's podcast recently, and it's like my most favorite thing that I've learned to say, which is, you know, if somebody really wants you to do something and you're feeling guilty because you don't want to do it, you can be like, Oh, I so wish I wanted to do that. [00:20:03][130.1]

[00:20:05] Gwen: My new favorite thing to say. But I don't. [00:20:07][2.0]

[00:20:08] Kristen: I don't. But you're going to have so much fun. I can't wait to get back from the pumpkin carving with 2000 people. [00:20:17][8.5]

[00:20:18] Gwen: Yeah, you just exercised that this past weekend. [00:20:20][1.7]

[00:20:20] Kristen: I did. And it was amazing. And I actually dodged the bullet of a very uncomfortable experience for those who tried to participate and were turned away with the hordes of people that were trying. [00:20:31][11.3]

[00:20:32] Gwen: Shocking an organized pumpkin carving event didn't go well. [00:20:36][4.1]

[00:20:36] Kristen: Yeah. Makes me want to have. Well, anyway, so just really kind of honoring. Sometimes when Greg's out of town, I'll, I'll be like, ooh, I can, I can go out with this friend and I can invite these people over and I can do this. I don't do any of that. And I used to feel like, Oh, I just wasted all this time. No, it's really what I wanted to do was be alone. So I think giving myself the opportunity to get comfortable with my own difference and thrive, I thrive when I'm being most myself, and I can model that for my kids. [00:21:09][32.3]

[00:21:09] Gwen: You had to learn how to be more alone. Having triplets, you have to be out and about and doing all the things. Now you know autism or not, you just had triplets. [00:21:20][10.5]

[00:21:21] Kristen: Yeah. I mean, for the first three years, I did nothing but go to the park down the street or. I mean, there just was no where you could go with three babies. It was it was pretty isolating. I would say the last thing is that it just taught me how to laugh at myself, because I know this can come as a shock to you, Gwen, but I can be a little overly serious, and it's really hard to be serious with half the hilarious shit that's going on around us with our kids. [00:21:47][25.6]

[00:21:47] Gwen: I don't see you as overly serious. You don't? No, we laugh all the time. [00:21:51][3.8]

[00:21:52] Kristen: Well, that's because you make me laugh all the time. That's why I hang out with you. [00:21:55][3.2]

[00:21:56] Gwen: Thank God for me. [00:21:57][0.9]

[00:21:58] Kristen: Thank God for you. Because laughing at myself didn't come until much later. Like last week, maybe. [00:22:02][4.1]

[00:22:03] Gwen: Oh, so much has happened for you in the past week. [00:22:06][3.0]

[00:22:06] Kristen: So much Gwen. [00:22:08][1.9]

[00:22:08] Gwen: I think another one for me is just not fitting in. I am so frickin thankful. We just don't fit in to status quo. [00:22:20][12.2]

[00:22:21] Kristen: It's such a gift. Who would have thought? [00:22:23][1.7]

[00:22:24] Gwen: It is such a gift and it was so alienating for a long time. And I felt so bad for myself. Really? Yeah. It was more about myself than it was my kid, because he's always been fine and joyful. And Reagan fits in very easily wherever we go, but not fitting in. I have been able to lean into more ambivert style of experiencing life like introverted extrovert whereas the old me was just like, Oh, here I am everywhere saying all the things, doing all the things, organizing all the things. And that's it's really not me anymore. And I really believe it's because we just didn't fit in a lot of places. And I got to experience kind of chillin the heck out. [00:23:16][51.5]

[00:23:17] Kristen: Oh my gosh. Can you imagine the nightmare you would have been if you were fitting in? [00:23:20][3.5]

[00:23:21] Gwen: Thank you. You mean being more fully myself than I am right now? No. My untrue self? Your untrue self. My untrue self. My Enneagram eight ness. No, I. I'm able to view the world from different angles and perspectives like you just said. Because we don't fit. And so that causes me to consider other people who don't fit. And then to dig into, well, what's their experience like? I can't walk it, but I can at least listen. And so I have just and that's why I opened my bookstore a number of years ago, because I read so many books about what it feels like to be people who don't fit in and different experiences than mine. And I just fell in love with all of the different experiences that I just never knew about. I was pretty bubbled and that's nobody's fault. I was just I just lived kind of in a evangelical bubble. A popped the bubble. And now I feel like I'm catching up and trying to learn all the things that I never knew and understand all the people I didn't know existed. And so I think not fitting in is what led to that. [00:24:40][79.5]

[00:24:41] Kristen: Very cool. [00:24:42][0.3]

[00:24:43] Gwen: And the people that stick around are the people that I actually want and need, because not fitting in just automatically means people are going to drop out. And that's okay. The more you don't fit in, the easier it is to kind of drop out of certain spaces. [00:25:01][18.5]

[00:25:02] Kristen: Right, Because you don't feel that pressure. Yeah. And I think a lot of people don't feel like they fit in, even though we would look at them and say they do. Right. [00:25:10][7.7]

[00:25:11] Gwen: Sure. [00:25:11][0.0]

[00:25:12] Kristen: Many people are having that experience. But I do think the ability now to really click in with people who are having a pretty radically different experience and understanding it and respecting it and seeing the value of these different experiences has been pretty life changing for sure. [00:25:32][20.1]

[00:25:33] Gwen: But also trying to make sure that you're not like saying, I relate to your experience because we don't. [00:25:39][5.8]

[00:25:40] Kristen: Right. [00:25:40][0.0]

[00:25:40] Gwen: But that's not something I would have understood years ago. That's been a newer revelation for me. Like. I'm just going to sit here and zip my lips so that I can listen to you and what it feels like to be you and to hear your story. And then I feel like I can advocate for different experiences without saying that I have watched them or that I understand them in a deep way, but I can still advocate for that sense of belonging. [00:26:10][29.7]

[00:26:12] Kristen: You would almost think that we planned this, but we didn't know what each other was going to say, because that leads into my third thing to be thankful for. And this is one of the more profound experiences of my life in that I've learned about the power of community and the power of sharing your experience is transformative. I don't think I would have wanted to be that vulnerable unless I was forced to be, which I was, because I needed people's help. I couldn't figure this out on my own. I have experienced it myself. I've watched it over and over again. When a mother or a father sees that understanding and acceptance in another parent's eyes, it is life changing. And it's this kind of peer to peer support, this looking in another person's eyes and seeing their acceptance and understanding. It's the biggest protective factor in a parent's mental health outcome for our population. So even though we're experiencing things that vary widely, we have a fundamental similarity that binds us and that sense of community. When you are feeling so different and so left out and so isolated, when you find your people and when you're able to see how that community supports each other, It's one of the biggest things I'm thankful for in my life. [00:27:39][87.6]

[00:27:40] Gwen: Yeah, I mean, so thankful that you went out and started a group that continues year after year after year to thrive and grow and do amazing things. I mean, being the introvert you are, you started that group. [00:27:55][15.1]

[00:27:56] Kristen: Yeah. And then amazing people came along and worked on it with me and now continue to do that really amazing work and have grown it beyond my wildest dreams. And yeah, because I am that introvert, I wasn't going to be able to do that by myself. But that community piece where, you know, the same women have been involved in that that board of directors for the past 15 years. So that's pretty amazing. [00:28:23][27.2]

[00:28:24] Gwen: Maybe we can link to that in our show notes. [00:28:26][1.9]

[00:28:27] Kristen: Yeah, absolutely. It's called the Living Spectrum, and there's an online Facebook group, and I think there are a thousand members across the Front Range in Colorado, but people in other states as well, and they have a lot of in-person events and speakers and it's a really great group. But really it did start in preschool because I just needed a friend. I really just kept showing up to the restaurants by myself month after month. [00:28:53][25.9]

[00:28:54] Gwen: Hoping somebody would come. [00:28:55][1.0]

[00:28:56] Kristen: And eventually, like other people did come. And they kept coming. [00:28:57][1.4]

[00:29:00] Gwen: I love thinking about your sitting alone in a restaurant because you weren't with your babies, so that means that that was your time. [00:29:07][6.6]

[00:29:07] Kristen: I could care less, although I did have one or two friends with me, I wasn't completely by myself, but I didn't see how this was going to turn into an actual support group. But it did. [00:29:16][9.4]

[00:29:18] Gwen: It sure did. Yes. That's a big congratulations and job well done. I have one more. Mm hmm. And it is gratitude for darkness or what I perceived at the time to be darkness being a bad thing. Maybe you can call it struggle. I now see darkness as such a gift. And as, I don't know, maybe something I even like Kristen and I know each other well enough to know that if we're not struggling with something, we're really upset about that. Yeah, that's right. [00:29:57][39.3]

[00:29:58] Kristen: Oh, of course. [00:29:58][0.5]

[00:29:59] Gwen: We've become so accustomed to, like, notable struggle. That now we're like, Hey, I mean, what's going on? Yeah. [00:30:11][11.5]

[00:30:11] Kristen: Do I need to create something? [00:30:12][0.8]

[00:30:12] Gwen: Because if there's nothing but we just look at each other like, All right, I don't know what else to say. We can maybe invent struggle. But I really I really do genuinely appreciate the struggle and the darkness. And although I've trained myself in ways to feel lost when I'm not struggling. The deeper the difficulty, the more I've invested in the learning tools. You know, insightful information from other people, learned data and science and methodologies and strategies for walking through the darkness. I have really put some heavy time into studying darkness. Like, one of my favorite books on the planet is Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. And it talks about the beauty of the darkness. Like she planted a moon garden Kristen. [00:31:10][57.4]

[00:31:10] Kristen: How cool is that. [00:31:13][2.4]

[00:31:13] Gwen: Garden that blossoms in the dark. [00:31:16][2.7]

[00:31:17] Kristen: That's amazing. [00:31:17][0.3]

[00:31:18] Gwen: So I will be planting a moon garden in the spring. But I no longer even think of the dark as, like, being void of light. I'm not focused on coming out into the light, like just walk through the darkness and search for the light. But I think of it more as a learning to see in the dark and appreciate the glimmers of light in the darkness because they're there. [00:31:42][23.3]

[00:31:42] Kristen: Yeah, for sure. And I think that Katherine May wrote a book called Wintering. It's another another really amazing meditation on, you know, when you really have to dig deep and go into yourself and understand your experience in a different way. It's another beautiful book. [00:32:02][19.3]

[00:32:02] Gwen: It is the perfect recommendation for the winter approaching. Katherine May. She has autism. [00:32:09][7.0]

[00:32:10] Kristen: She sure does. And she's amazing. [00:32:12][1.4]

[00:32:13] Gwen: And she's amazing. She talks very openly about it. And so maybe we can have her as a guest someday. [00:32:18][5.1]

[00:32:19] Kristen: Until that beautiful day we'll just put it in our shownotes. [00:32:22][2.3]

[00:32:22] Gwen: Yep. Do you have any more things that you're thankful for? [00:32:25][2.8]

[00:32:26] Kristen: I think those are the highlights of my thankfulness today. [00:32:29][2.5]

[00:32:30] Gwen: Those are the highlights. There's only. There's only so much gratitude we can express out loud, right? [00:32:34][4.9]

[00:32:35] Kristen: That's right. Because we are really busy focusing on how to fix the other things. Yeah. [00:32:39][4.1]

[00:32:40] Gwen: All the hard things. [00:32:41][1.1]

[00:32:42] Kristen: All the time. [00:32:42][0.0]

[00:32:43] Gwen: All the time. I think that we will hand it over to our kids now because they have some amazing things to say about gratitude and thankfulness, too. And we would much rather you learn more from them than more from us. So before we let you do that, please, please go to our website. And if you haven't already subscribed to our free community, do so there that it is the space that we're really investing in to you. And there's no cost. You will get newsletters and any magical things that we want to share through that community there. So we would really appreciate you sending that on to a friend who could benefit from being a part of that community too. [00:33:32][48.7]

[00:33:33] Kristen: Hope to see you there. [00:33:33][0.4]

[00:33:34] Gwen: All right. Bye, friends. [00:33:35][0.5]

[00:33:36] Kristen: Bye. [00:33:36][0.0]

[00:33:37] Reagan: We know our moms are amazing, but they don't know everything. We think that you deserve to hear from the real experts. Their kids. [00:33:45][7.6]

[00:33:47] Reagan: We believe in nothing about us without us. So here it is. The last word. [00:33:51][4.9]

[00:33:55] Gwen: I'm here with my favorite Rylan in the whole wide world. Hey, buddy. [00:33:59][4.2]

[00:34:00] Rylan: Hi. [00:34:00][0.0]

[00:34:01] Gwen: We did an episode today on thankfulness. Can you share with us maybe three things that you are feeling especially grateful or thankful for right now? [00:34:10][8.8]

[00:34:10] Rylan: I guess like my job, like making money with it. [00:34:14][3.2]

[00:34:15] Gwen: It's an amazing one. Can you tell our listeners what your job is. [00:34:17][2.6]

[00:34:18] Rylan: Back and forth with food? [00:34:19][1.0]

[00:34:20] Gwen: And why do you think that's a really good thing for you to be doing? [00:34:24][3.7]

[00:34:25] Rylan: Because then I have spending money and saving up for Japan. [00:34:29][4.0]

[00:34:32] Gwen: Yes, sir. You have so much money. It literally fills our dry air, doesn't it? Because you never take it out of your pockets. So we just throw singles around the laundry room, don't we? [00:34:45][13.0]

[00:34:46] Rylan: I guess so. [00:34:46][0.5]

[00:34:48] Gwen: What do you spend your money on these days? [00:34:50][1.9]

[00:34:51] Rylan: Pokemon cards and D and D minis and a bunch of collecting stuff. [00:34:56][5.4]

[00:34:57] Gwen: You know what I'm thankful for in relation to you earning money is that you are so generous with your friends and you love to buy things for other people and spoil them. And I think that's just such an awesome quality that you have that you want to do that for people. Does that make you happy to buy things for your friends? Yeah. Yeah. All right. What's another thing that you're thankful for right now? [00:35:23][25.8]

[00:35:24] Rylan: Well, managing an entire Minecraft server with my friends. [00:35:28][3.9]

[00:35:29] Gwen: Can you tell our listeners who do not Minecraft what that means? [00:35:33][4.0]

[00:35:35] Rylan: It's a game on the computer and I play with my friends. Can build and do whatever you want really. [00:35:42][7.7]

[00:35:43] Gwen: What do you build? [00:35:44][0.3]

[00:35:45] Rylan: Houses. Kingdoms. Factions. [00:35:47][2.7]

[00:35:49] Gwen: Factions. What is a faction? [00:35:50][1.2]

[00:35:52] Rylan: I don't really know how to explain it, though. [00:35:53][1.4]

[00:35:54] Gwen: Is it like a town? [00:35:54][0.5]

[00:35:55] Rylan: Basically like tribes, in a way. Like different. Like kingdoms. [00:36:01][5.5]

[00:36:01] Gwen: Different kingdoms. Do the kingdoms get along? [00:36:03][2.0]

[00:36:05] Rylan: Yeah. Right now there's peace. But maybe in the future, the peace won't be kept. [00:36:11][6.1]

[00:36:13] Gwen: Are you in control of the peace? [00:36:14][1.5]

[00:36:15] Rylan: Not really. I am game master, but it doesn't mean I'm in control of everything. [00:36:20][4.6]

[00:36:21] Gwen: Hmm. What have you learned about being game master? What has that taught you? [00:36:25][4.3]

[00:36:26] Rylan: That basically you got to make sure you keep everyone happy and keep secrets that need to be kept from other players and whatnot. Huh? [00:36:38][11.4]

[00:36:39] Gwen: What kind of secrets? What's an example? [00:36:40][1.3]

[00:36:41] Rylan: Like Secret Bases? You know. [00:36:43][1.6]

[00:36:43] Gwen: It's interesting. So you kind of act as like the moderator. [00:36:46][3.2]

[00:36:47] Rylan: Yeah. [00:36:47][0.0]

[00:36:49] Gwen: That's a good life skill, you think? [00:36:50][1.3]

[00:36:51] Rylan: And I'm also a builder, so I help build other people's stuff. [00:36:54][3.8]

[00:36:55] Gwen: What's your favorite thing you've built in your sanction? Faction. Faction? [00:36:59][4.0]

[00:37:01] Rylan: Either the monument, the ocean monument that I made or the domes, which took a long time to make. [00:37:09][8.0]

[00:37:10] Gwen: You made an ocean monument in your house. Let me get. Can I guess what's part of it? A sea turtle. [00:37:15][5.2]

[00:37:16] Rylan: Well, ocean bottom is a naturally generated structure. Minecraft, basically. I just copy the entire ocean monument, put it near the kingdom, and then kind of made it my home. [00:37:29][12.8]

[00:37:30] Gwen: I understand so clearly what you just said. What's your last thing that you're thankful for? [00:37:37][7.7]

[00:37:40] Rylan: Didn't I say Pokemon cards? [00:37:40][0.0]

[00:37:41] Gwen: You didn't say that already. [00:37:42][0.7]

[00:37:43] Rylan: Well, I guess my Pokemon collection and my progress. [00:37:46][2.8]

[00:37:47] Gwen: No surprise there, right? [00:37:48][1.0]

[00:37:49] Rylan: Yeah. [00:37:49][0.0]

[00:37:50] Gwen: Just in like a few sentences. Tell us about your Pokemon collection. What are you the most proud of? [00:37:54][4.2]

[00:37:55] Rylan: Probably my shining faith collection, which is really close to having a master set. I completed to set but not the master set, which basically has all the reverse holos and all the cards. [00:38:07][11.8]

[00:38:08] Gwen: Mm. Where are you going this afternoon? [00:38:10][2.5]

[00:38:12] Rylan: Collecting toys. [00:38:12][0.5]

[00:38:13] Gwen: To do what? [00:38:13][0.4]

[00:38:14] Rylan: Get more Pokemon cards. [00:38:15][0.7]

[00:38:17] Gwen: That's so weird that we're doing that on a Saturday, isn't it? [00:38:19][2.2]

[00:38:22] Rylan: It's not weird. Saturday's when you can do anything. [00:38:22][0.0]

[00:38:25] Gwen: Okay. Ray. Ray. You haven't been on the last word in a while. And I think it's about time. Don't you? Oh. Okay. Reagan is going to talk to us about some things that she's especially thankful for. Take it away, girl. [00:38:41][15.7]

[00:38:42] Reagan: I'm thankful for music because it makes me happy. [00:38:46][4.7]

[00:38:48] Gwen: Why does it make you happy? [00:38:49][0.7]

[00:38:50] Reagan: I'm not sure. It just does. [00:38:51][1.2]

[00:38:55] Gwen: How often do you listen to music? [00:38:56][1.3]

[00:38:57] Reagan: Too much. [00:38:58][0.3]

[00:38:59] Gwen: There's no such thing as too much listening. When you walk around the house, what do you look like? [00:39:04][5.6]

[00:39:05] Reagan: Headphones on. Listening to music. [00:39:07][1.5]

[00:39:07] Gwen: Yeah, At all times, right? Yep. Can you ever hear us when we're trying to talk to you? No. No. Always the music. Which is good. Music is good. Do you like singing music? [00:39:19][12.5]

[00:39:20] Reagan: Yeah, if I like the music. [00:39:23][2.3]

[00:39:23] Gwen: What are some of your favorite artists right now? [00:39:26][2.2]

[00:39:26] Reagan: I like Tate McRae. [00:39:28][1.5]

[00:39:29] Gwen: Tate McRae. Okay. [00:39:30][0.9]

[00:39:31] Reagan: I like Taylor Swift. [00:39:32][1.1]

[00:39:34] Gwen: Where are you going today? [00:39:34][0.7]

[00:39:35] Reagan: To the Taylor Swift Eras movie. I think that's what it's called. [00:39:39][3.9]

[00:39:40] Gwen: Who else do you like? [00:39:42][1.6]

[00:39:42] Reagan: I like Natalie Jane and Lawrence Spencer Smith. [00:39:46][3.3]

[00:39:47] Gwen: Awesome. [00:39:47][0.0]

[00:39:48] Reagan: That's my favorite. [00:39:48][0.4]

[00:39:48] Gwen: Okay. And what is something else that you're thankful for? At 12 years old. [00:39:54][5.3]

[00:39:55] Reagan: My puppy. [00:39:55][0.2]

[00:39:56] Gwen: Oh me too. [00:39:57][1.6]

[00:39:59] Reagan: Today he got a silver bottle and it was like, all cleaned out and stuff like that. And he chased it around and put it on his mouth and was just pouncing on it. [00:40:08][9.1]

[00:40:09] Gwen: Pouncing. He is the epitome of happiness, isn't he? [00:40:12][2.6]

[00:40:12] Reagan: No joyfulness. [00:40:13][0.8]

[00:40:13] Gwen: Oh, sorry. Joyfulness. He does out a lot of light and life to our family, doesn't he? Yeah. If the viewers could see you walking around the house with your puppy Dudley, what would that look like? [00:40:27][13.4]

[00:40:28] Reagan: Me running around. [00:40:29][0.4]

[00:40:31] Gwen: And then what do you do? Like, every 5 minutes. [00:40:33][2.1]

[00:40:33] Reagan: Carry him. [00:40:34][0.6]

[00:40:34] Gwen: Carry him. Like your hip. Right. Like a toddler. [00:40:38][3.6]

[00:40:42] Reagan: He's just a furry baby. [00:40:42][0.0]

[00:40:43] Gwen: He is a furry baby. Is that what your brother calls him? Furry baby? Sure. All right. Any other things that you're really grateful for at 12 years old? [00:40:52][9.4]

[00:40:53] Reagan: Family and friends, especially. [00:40:55][2.3]

[00:40:56] Gwen: Yes. Can you talk a little bit about the role that friendship has in your life and why they're so important? [00:41:01][5.2]

[00:41:02] Reagan: Well, at school, if I didn't have friends, I would want to be homeschooled because it's boring without friends. [00:41:08][5.8]

[00:41:09] Gwen: Thank goodness for the friends at school. You and I would murder each other if you homeschooled. Hey that's not nice. It's not. But maybe an exaggeration. But we wouldn't do well, would we? No. No. Why else are friends important to you? [00:41:32][23.2]

[00:41:33] Reagan: Because they bring the life of the joy. [00:41:34][1.4]

[00:41:35] Gwen: They bring the life of the joy. That is a great way to say it. Anything in particular that you love about your current group of friends? [00:41:43][7.6]

[00:41:44] Reagan: All unique. Different. Funny. Honest. [00:41:48][3.3]

[00:41:49] Gwen: They're honest. They're loyal. Loyalty. Well, you do have an excellent group of friends whom some of them are going to the Taylor Swift concert with you today. All right, Reagan. I appreciate your feedback. Anything else you want to say? Is there like a favorite woman podcaster that you especially are thankful for? [00:42:10][21.4]

[00:42:11] Reagan: You guys, you guys should listen to the Lol Podcast. [00:42:15][4.4]

[00:42:16] Gwen: Oh, that's your favorite. Yeah. Oh. Mm hmm. Lol Podcast. Okay. [00:42:20][4.1]

[00:42:22] Reagan: Peace out Girl Scouts. [00:42:23][0.7]

[00:42:23] Gwen: Oh, okay. She just left. She's gone. Bye. [00:42:27][3.3]

[00:42:28] Gwen: Thanks for joining us for this episode. We appreciate you so very much. We would love it if you'd subscribe to our show in your favorite podcast app and rate us, preferably with five stars. [00:42:39][11.4]

[00:42:41] Kristen: We love hearing from our listeners. So visit our website to reach out via email or through our voicemail box. You can sign up for our free newsletter. Better yet, join our communal closet where you can grow in community with us and each other. [00:42:55][14.0]

[00:42:56] Gwen: Get on in there by visiting See you next time. [00:42:56][0.0]

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