Growth & Resilience
9 min readFeb 11, 2024

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Gratitude

Gratitude is one of my favorite words and I first learned the word gratitude in a support group I attended a few years ago. Both support groups were called Step Up and Stepping Stones. We not only learned about gratitude — The following topics were based on mindfulness techniques which taught me about yoga, reiki, and other techniques to ground myself. I learned what a mandala was and I’ve been coloring adult mandala’s since attending those groups. We were also taught how to do Zen tangles and I can explain what this is better through images.

Our facilitator gave us a booklet of small, square sized papers and put this together in a ring-sized small booklet with a key chain attached to it. On each square sized paper, we would listen to meditating and relaxing music while doodling what came to our mind. I never knew what to draw but, eventually, the doodling's came to life and became something. Zen tangles are also a great tool to add to anyone’s self care box. Self care tool boxes were taught in these groups and I’ve been trying to get back into this. I have a self care tool box that I painted a few years back as it was also an activity in these groups. So I painted a self care box which gauged my interest to paint a vacation savings box. I’ve always been able to release my creativity through art and it is so healing and therapeutic!

These self care tool boxes are individual to each person and will look differently. In my self care box, I have a bunch of fidgets, squish toys, stress balls, and those pop it stress toys. I also have a few of my favorite gel pens and markers that I use the most when I color. As well, I have a small unicorn plush in my self care toolbox because unicorns cheer me up when I need cheering up and seeing all of these items in my box make me feel better.

I think I’m hyper fixated on unicorns and it’s always been a special interest of mine since I was young. Unicorns can mean so many different things with lessons to take from their teachings. Maybe I’ll write an entry and dedicate that solely to what being a unicorn is but how do I even begin to write this? I’m tempted now!

Self care will look differently on every one of us and it’s something to take into consideration about what works for you. When I’m overwhelmed, I journal my thoughts on a piece of paper and, sometimes, I can write for about an hour. I try not to re-read my journal though because I do not want to re-trigger myself — Journaling for myself is best to get whatever is bottled up released and out of our bodies. Sometimes when we do not have someone to talk to, that is where journaling can come in handy. I also know that journaling is not for all of us and you will find something that you find fulfilling and/or an activity where you can release pent up stress and/or anger.

When I was overwhelmed and constantly angry as a child and to also help with the ongoing bullying from my peers, my mother decided to put me in martial arts. This didn’t work out too much and I was not interested in this activity. I could barely express my disinterest with martial arts and I hated the uniform too! I wanted to do dance or cooking but my mother didn’t approve of those activities and mentioned how they’re not fulfilling enough and how martial arts will help me long term. Martial arts can work for some of us and can be a stress de-booster. My Mom thought that she would toughen me up and nothing really worked. When my martial arts instructor told us to hit the large bag in practice, I was hesitant and scared that I was going to hurt the bag. Martial arts is not my thing at all.

However, I like music and I played the piano for many years while presenting in front of many people in recitals. It was fascinating but anxiety inducing too! I remember reciting Silent Night during many Christmas festivals — Although my piano instructor and my mother challenged me at times. I appreciated being challenged but it was frustrating at the same time. As a result of my auditory processing challenges, it takes an incredibly long time to pick up on new things especially new songs but it does not mean I cannot do it. It just takes me time and that’s okay. Sometimes while growing up, my mother was really hard with me and she expected me to get good grades and to do well in my piano recitals — Little was she aware of how much perceived effort I put into everything but I wasn’t the greatest. Overall, I like piano — Music and art have always been my go to’s! Every time I see a keyboard at a friends or in the community, I sit down and I play a few songs that I do remember playing such as the chopsticks. I’d play the piano again if I had the funds to pay for piano lessons but maybe sometime in the future?

Sometimes even finding joy in the simplest of things can be gratitude. It’s about finding our inner peace and happiness, and knowing what is best for us. Here are a few things that I’m grateful for every day:

  • My favorite person. She was my supervisor and she still is technically at work but we’re very close friends. She’s encouraged my transparency with my own autistic traits and neurodivergence and I used to be afraid to disclose to anyone. I’m not even afraid to talk about my own autism with those I support because transparency is a beautiful thing. I rather share who I am and be authentic than hide who I am. I do not hide anymore.
  • The air we breathe, the food I do have, and the ability to wake up every morning and still be alive. There’s a lot of people that are unable to breathe properly or wake up the following day; this is a reason why I like to say “I love you” to my close friends in case I’m unable to talk to them the following day because we really do not know. In terms of food, there’s a ton of people accessing food banks or who go without meals every day and this breaks my heart! I used to be on food coupons and those coupons were something but not the greatest. I survived. I did it. I refused to give up and I came out stronger than ever. Even as I feel that my life is going backwards, I will always come out of this because I’m stronger than ever as a result of my own lived experiences.
  • I’m grateful for the sweet family that supported me when I had nothing in 2015. That family allowed me to stay in their basement with my two bags and I eventually got on social assistance, and slowly began my life. I did and it’s thanks to good people that do exist which I have to remind myself about every day. Even as my favorite person said last night, “good people do exist.”
  • Genuine and real friends that check in with me and know when I am not doing the greatest. They just know me especially when I go quiet and I am grateful for those persons in my life.
  • Kindness and good people — Please do not stop being a kind person because there are people that want to only see us miserable. We need more good people out there especially in a world consumed of so much hate and greed. More love, less hate!
  • My full time job and my other on call jobs. The unemployment rate is steadily increasing. As an autistic, it is not easy to maintain steady employment but I am doing it. You can thank my team of warm hearted and good people — We all help each other learn and grow in terms of our professional development.
  • My beautiful apartment and, I think you can say, I am finally adjusting to it here. This apartment is somewhat smaller than my other apartment — I had a humongous kitchen, living room, and a bedroom with utilities all included. As a result of life circumstances, I did not have a choice to move and I feel so much better which has significiantly helped with my healing!
  • Safety and peace — I feel safe where I am at. My rapist does not know where I live or the small suburban area that I live in. He has no idea and he will not ever know because no contact is no contact and, sometimes, we have to trust our guts. My gut on top of many others that wanted what was best for me advised to go no contact with my rapist and to move while alerting the victim witness assistance people. I did all of that and I felt instantly better. My place here is also super quiet in a great neighborhood! I do not even hear other tenants here. Apparently, my apartment is sound proof because I did a test run one evening — While I had my TV playing in the background, I stepped out to the hallway and I could not hear anything so the noise levels are great! I can imagine myself living here long term; I chose a very good place for myself.
  • Coffee and tea — Some mornings and it depends on my mood, I absolutely need my caffeine fix (even though it is not good for me). Caffeinated beverages typically make me to be very hyperactive where I will ramble on and on and on about whatever. I normally go for decaffeinated beverages. They’re so much better!
  • My doctor — My doctor has checked in on me so many times even when I did not ask to be checked on. I disclosed my central auditory processing disorder and other mental health challenges to my doctor upon doing the meet and greet, and they just check in on me. I appreciate the accommodations a lot!
  • Management at my workplace — Disclosing my autism/neurodivergence and my sexual assault from 2023 has helped significantly. On Friday, February 9th, I attended a trauma/art healing group that my manager referred me to; this helped so much! I will be attending similar groups every other Friday’s going forward. Disclosure about certain things can be necessary. Again, transparency is a beautiful thing! My team has also been very accommodating upon my disclose but it was needed.
  • Health and wellness. According to my doctor, my health is pretty perfect and I thought it would be worse. From abstaining from alcohol though, I’ve noticed my skin, physical appearance, mentality, and just about everything get a lot better!
  • Sobriety. Since abstaining from alcoholic beverages, I’ve been able to critically think, maintain my employment(s), and be more transparent about everything. Sobriety has significantly changed my life especially in terms of my interpersonal relationships. I feel that the girl prior to 2016 is back yet again!

With that being said, I’m sure I can put a lot more on my gratitude list. I wanted to document the main areas of what I am grateful for. Maybe you can do the same too? Gratitude will look very different for most of us.

Please remember that it is the simple things of life that are the most important and to keep in mind. Even when a close friend says, “I love you,” this means a lot to me here. When I get those three words, It opens up my heart a bit more; I’ve never received those words or any types of praise upon growing up. I’ve had to reassure myself especially through high school and it was difficult but I survived!

Remember to be grateful for at least three things every day and this list can either be the same or different every day.

-Mystic

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Growth & Resilience

If life were easy, we would not be living life correctly. Life is about constant growth & overcoming challenges and obstacles along the way.