We Are Brave Together

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I am honored and excited to be an official support group facilitator for We Are Brave Together, a supportive community of moms with special needs children.

Months ago, pre-COVID, I had the honor of meeting Jessica Patay, founder of We Are Brave Together and fellow special needs mom. She shared with me the mission of her non-profit:

The heart of We Are Brave Together is to strengthen, encourage, inspire and validate all Special Needs Moms in their unique and difficult journeys.

“Special Needs Mom” means you are a mother caring for any age child or adult, with ANY TYPE of challenge — be it medical, mental, behavioral, genetic, developmental, psychiatric, learning, cognitive, or physical. The common thread here is how the members of the community can offer support and strength to one another. Our hope is that each mother comes away from an event, gathering, or online exchange feeling recharged and empowered and knowing that she is NOT ALONE.

To that end, I would like to officially invite you to join my first support group meeting – and since we are still in the land of virtual get-togethers, I am grateful for the opportunity to include everyone (and not just Los Angelenos)!

Saturday, 7/18

1-3pm PST

Register to join, here!

Welcome to a safe space for special needs moms!

New Partnership: Poppy Life Care

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(Pictured: Susanna Peace Lovell)

 

By Catherine DiFonso

Newport Beach, CA, May 4, 2020: A new partnership has been developed between Poppy Life Care and SPL Life Coaching for families with special needs children. The partnership will bring both free and paid services to Poppy Life Care customers.

Susanna Peace Lovell, SPL Life Coaching principal and certified professional life coach, will develop a program featuring virtual life coaching sessions, specifically designed to address issues faced by families with children who have special needs, i.e., spectrum disorders, ADHD, anxiety or depression.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this Life Coaching program to our customers,” said Erica Solis, Poppy Life Care founder and CEO. “With special needs families hard-pressed to add one more appointment to their day, we hope that the convenience of virtual sessions will be useful to them.”

The life coaching sessions will be held twice a month, customized to address the unique issues faced by each family. Lovell also has an online, self-paced course featuring classes covering a variety of topics focused on special needs families, such as the importance of self-care, how to advocate for your child, co-parenting, finding the best therapeutic support and much more. These classes will be available to Poppy Life Care customers at a discounted rate.

“Having a child with special needs is stressful on a family and requires all members to navigate a conscious and specific path through this challenging life together,” says Lovell. “My goal is to help special needs families learn how to best advocate for their special needs child, and ways to nurture them – and themselves – to whole family wellness.”

About Poppy Life Care

Poppy Life Care is a United States non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is determined to educate and empower children and parents living with issues related to spectrum disorders, ADHD, anxiety and depression. Poppy Life Care serves families living with these daily challenges and supports not only awareness but therapies and education, reducing the dependency on prescription drugs, and eliminating stigmas through interdisciplinary programs.

Our goal is to facilitate awareness and education while building innovative care programs, which we hope to accomplish alongside our local communities, its businesses and people. We believe in helping each other as part of an ecosystem of local businesses, healthcare groups, academic institutions and professionals alike. Visit www.poppylifecare.org for more information.

About Susanna Peace Lovell

Susanna Peace Lovell received her B.A. from UC Berkeley, and is a certified professional life coach and advocate dedicated to the health and wellness of special needs families everywhere. Her own daughter Arizona has multiple challenges and diagnoses including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, anxiety and myriad food allergies. On her journey of navigating through the worry and heartbreak of raising a special needs child, Susanna found her true life calling: to help other parents find and realize joy and passion in their own lives. Visit www.susannapeacelovell.com for more information.

Media Contact

Erica Solis, Founder & Executive Director

erica@poppylifecare.org

 

For more information on virtual programs: https://www.poppylifecare.org/virtual-programs

Join the email list to get the most updated information on programs and services!

 

 

Safer At Home: Reflections (thus far)

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(Legos, ALL DAY!)

 

We are embarking upon week 8 (!!) of safer at home / shelter in place / quarantine living. Arizona and I have had our ups and downs, mostly because change in routines and schedules are not easy for either of us.

But aside from increased anxiety from time to time, we are largely doing okay. And I am grateful for so much goodness that has already come out of this time for us.

We have enjoyed a less harried pace. We have enjoyed being in our home. We have been riding bikes in our very hilly neighborhood – and Arizona can now ride down the difficult hill on her own. I’m not sure how many LEGO (thank goodness for LEGO) sets we’ve done, because I’ve lost count. We are doing so much art together. We are cooking every day. We are playing with dolls and creating social scenarios where the dolls talk through their big feelings.

 

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(Doll scenarios)

 

In the traditional sense, we are not getting the myriad therapeutic services that Arizona is used to receiving. But we still do our daily work: executive function drills (visual schedules, organizing our to dos), fine motor skills (again, LEGO), play therapy (doll conversations), visual and motor planning, social thinking (Zoom class sessions), emotional regulation (especially the learning to be flexible part), speech + language processing (especially the expression of big feelings part – verbal, written and artistic releasing), adaptive PE (physical education) and gross motor skills (bike riding, running and jumping), calming and coping skills / regulation (music, quiet time, journaling and reflection) …

And, also: sometimes we just hit a wall. Sometimes one funky day turns into three in a row. Two weeks ago, we had an entire week of funk. I know I wanted to give up, so many times. We are all juggling so much. I am trying to run a small business and home school my child who normally has a 1:1 aide with her full-time M-F. I cannot do it all, even on my best days.

But if there’s one thing I know about me and my girl, it’s that we are used to new normals. We can do hard things. We can adapt and be flexible. We always come back to love. We are a team and we continue to grow and learn, together.

How are you and your families coping with quarantine life? What are new things you are discovering together? In what ways are you looking for additional support?

 

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(A spontaneous picnic snack on the balcony)

My Recommendations: Books for Autism Families

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(Some of my all time faves!)

 

Well, hey y’all. I haven’t posted anything in a month because I have been HOME SCHOOLING MY CHILD (not by choice) and adjusting to yet another NEW NORMAL for us, as a family living with Autism during COVID-19 + quarantine + safer at home mandates. By the way, for those of us who have lost track, it’s April and therefore:  Happy National Autism Awareness Month!

I will write more about how we are coping in a separate post, but I will say that I am encouraged daily by my child’s (and my) ability to adapt and be flexible and talk about the challenging things and the not-so-bad things.

In the meantime, I was recently asked about any book recommendations I would have, to help assist with a family’s journey in raising a child with autism. So for now, I’d like to share my TOP reference books for getting help and support along the way (and, on-going).

I’m not sure how many of us have “extra” time on our hands, but if we feel like we do and want to learn more about this world of autism, here are my enthusiastic recommendations:

 

1) The Highly Sensitive Child / Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D

*Exactly as it sounds — a great read on understanding our child’s “extra” sensitivities – physically, emotionally, psychologically. This was one of the first books I read when Arizona was initially diagnosed with “SPD” – sensory processing disorder. What happens when the world overwhelms our child?

2) The Reason I Jump / Naoki Higashida

*This heartwarming book (the inner voice of a 13 year old with autism) was written by a non-verbal Japanese boy who learned to communicate via device and express how he is living with his particular autism. A very mind-blowing and transformational read for those of us trying to understand the autism brain a little more. It definitely helped me understand my child, more deeply.

3) Raising a Sensory Smart Child / Lindsay Biel and Nancy Peske

*A ground-breaking handbook for parents of children suffering from Sensory Integration (SI) Dysfunction (also known as SPD – sensory processing disorder) examines the causes and implications of the disorder and offers indispensable advice on how to help youngsters overcome the ailment to normalize affected motor, speech, and social skills. Very thorough resource book!

4) Healing the New Childhood Epidemics (Autism / ADHD / ASTHMA and Allergies) – Kenneth Bock, MD

*This book used to be my BIBLE in the beginning of our journey. My daughter has “all” of these labels / diagnoses and this was a very straightforward and nurturing read that really helped calm me down! Note: I am not a huge fan of the word “healing” because it implies that we will reach a point of “complete graduation” from symptoms / diagnoses – and I don’t believe that to be necessarily true in all cases. Just my humble opinion! ALSO – at press time: this book is currently FREE via Amazon audible.

5) The Strong-Willed Child / Dr. James Dobson

*My mother actually had this book when I was a child and recommended it to me. I can’t imagine it was used as a handbook to help understand / raise me, haha! Note: there is a NEW version of this book called the NEW Strong-Willed Child (also by Dr. James Dobson) – now available via Amazon audible for FREE.

6) When You Worry About the One You Love / Dr. Edward Hallowell

*This book was especially helpful in understanding emotional, behavioral and learning challenges and looks at reasons (including genetics) as to why these might be. Great resource.

7) Driven to Distraction / Dr. Edward Hallowell

*I really respond well to this author – I like him. This was a helpful read when my child first received her official ADHD diagnosis at the age of 6. Another mom whose son was diagnosed with ADD a few years earlier gave me the recommendation. This book looks at how to recognize and methods for coping with, attention deficit disorder.

8) The Conscious Parent / Dr. Shefali Tsabary

*Dr. Shefali is a mentor who I have worked with in small groups, as an attendee to her talks and conferences, and I’ve taken her online courses …. this was single-handedly the most inspirational and spiritual book for me as a PARENT of a child with special needs – because it helps us to see our children as their OWN beings – not our mini mes that we are molding to feed / assuage our own egos. This book helped me to really understand how to honor my child for exactly who she is. Interestingly, this book isn’t specifically for special needs parents, but my takeaway from it really helped me transform myself by empowering my child. Fun fact: all of Dr. Shefali’s courses

9) The Motherhood Evolution: How Thriving Mothers Raise Thriving Children / Suzi Lula

*Suzi Lula, spiritual therapist and counselor, is my biggest inspiration behind understanding self-care as a mother, and more importantly, the re-defining of self-care as non-negotiable and imperative for my emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. I have never understood “put your own oxygen mask on first, before your child’s” better than after I read this book. Suzi takes us through a relationship of surviving with our children, to that of thriving. Highly recommend!

Okay, that’s it for now. Enjoy! I would love to hear about your recommendations as well. What books have assisted you the most in this life journey, even outside of parenting?

 

 

JOMO / The Joy of Missing Out

 

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(A Girlfriend Day Out with Oprah!)

A few weeks ago, before the country began to shut down, a few girlfriends and I attended Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour at the Forum in Inglewood / Los Angeles. It was a day full of intention, uplifting stories and mindful group work (with all 13,600 of us!). Oprah did not disappoint with her words of wisdom, spiritual teachings and magnificent story-telling laden with both aha and LAUGH OUT LOUD moments.

She talked about the peace she has now in her mid-60s: a calm and serene energy that she wants those of us younger than her to look forward to. There were many takeaways from the day, but one that stood out for me was Oprah’s distancing from FOMO (the fear of missing out) and leaning more into JOMO (the joy of missing out).

In the April 2020 Oprah magazine, writer K. Aleisha Fetters expands upon this notion: “ … JOMO; short for the joy of missing out .. [is a] term that captures the relief that comes with nixing activities and social engagements that stress you out – and can ultimately hurt your health.”

Sophie Lazarus, PhD (psychologist @ Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center) states that the goal of JOMO is to be intentional about how you spend your time and energy.

And even though I have set a very specific intention to slow down my life over the past year or two and be more mindful about how I am spending my time and with WHOM, I realize that as much as I have TRIED to implement this, I continued to miss the mark. My life has remained a non-stop whirlwind of activities and To Dos.

Insert COVID-19: and although I am worried and anxious about SO MANY things that are truly outside of my control, I am grateful for the ways I am being forced to lean into the stillness, isolation and the slowing down of LIFE. This is my own form of JOMO, and a new normal for me if you will.

And as we are all slowing down, I am grateful for the impact that these actions are having on the greater health of the inhabitants of this universe (as well as the planet earth we reside upon).

I could not have expressed it better than one of my brilliant wisdom teachers, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, in an email sent out earlier today:

Yes, things are inconvenient
Yes, things are chaotic
Yes, the kids at home are a handful
Yes, yes, yes

But you know what else is a YES?

Yes, to quiet
Yes, to stillness
Yes, to self-reflection and growth
Yes, to being and connection
Yes, to healthy eating and exercising
Yes, to creativity
Yes, to decluttering and organizing
Yes, to finishing to-do lists
Yes, to reaching out and catching up with all 
Yes, to meditating
Yes, to all things we never had time for before

HOW ARE YOU SAYING YES TODAY?

The earth is saying yes to the reprieve 
To no cars on the road
To less garbage in the oceans
To less waste in the landfills
To less pollution from the factories
To fewer accidents and carnage

The earth is breathing a sigh of relief – are you?

Remember: you can look at this through the eyes of scarcity or abundance. Which do you choose?

***

So, my loves: how can we lean into what is most certainly an intentional message for us all?

I choose to lean into this new flow; even if it looks much different than I had visioned for myself.

How are you taking care of your spirit, soul and body today?

xo,

Susanna Peace Lovell

Prime Time Sports: Inclusion Matters!

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(Soccer Star!)

My daughter Arizona has minimal experience participating in team athletics but expressed an interest in various sports: soccer and volleyball, to name a few.

When she started middle school this past Fall, we learned of an after school program called Prime Time Sports located on campus and engaging students in myriad activities. Initially, I discounted this offering as an option for us: Arizona would require too much assistance, a 1:1 aide and special guidance to participate in any after school program that required following directions, staying with a group and focusing on specific activities. **The aide we currently have (through a private agency but funded by LAUSD) can only be with her during school instruction and her hours are maxed out, accordingly.

All of that to say, I decided to have a conversation with the staff. Would there be a way for Arizona to “try” the program – maybe an hour after school, one day a week?

Turns out, I was presented with even more exciting news! I was told there would be a special athletic league, geared toward students with special needs – an inclusion soccer team that would consist of “player coaches” (neuro-typical students) and kids who needed help (like Arizona). This would take place on Wednesdays after school for a few weeks, including games against 2 other inclusion teams in the area and culminating in a championship day with a tournament, medals and recognition. I was IN! (And more importantly – so was Arizona).

Fast forward to February 2020 and we just wrapped up the season with a festive championship celebration! Arizona felt proud and excited that she got a “little medal.” Thank you, Prime Time Sports, for creating a platform for kids with all abilities to participate on a sports team.

Inclusion MATTERS — and here’s why:

*Integration into community!

*Development of a sense of belonging!

*Preparation for life – and real life, with all of its diversity and flavor!

*Provides ALL people with opportunities to develop friendships with each other!

I would love to hear the ways in which you are able to practice inclusion in your own lives. What are the specific programs you’ve joined / found helpful and what has been your experience? Thank you for sharing!

 

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(A Joyful DAY!)

The Powder Room Show on Mom Talk Network

 

 

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What a beautiful conversation w/ Mom Talk Network and The Powder Room SHOW: sharing with intention — raising a child with special needs.

https://youtu.be/dO-aGS1RidM

Join us for a very transparent and real conversation about my experience in raising a daughter on the spectrum: the good, the bad, the uncomfortable moments and ultimately, the very amazing and ENDLESS blessings!

I am honored to represent single mamas out there – and equally so grateful and honored to share the co-parenting responsibility with my former husband. We have come a long way: much love!

ENJOY the conversation xoxo

 

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**And, as always, join me in my classroom for my new ONLINE COURSE: Life Management for Special Needs Families: An Ultimate Resource Guide for Creating a Thriving Life!

 

 

*New Online Course* : Life Management For Special Needs Families

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(My new online course is open for enrollment! Join me in my classroom!)

 

Dearest Ones!

Life Management for Special Needs Families: An Ultimate Resource Guide for Creating a Thriving Life, is now open for enrollment and will dive deep into the following topics:

Class # 1: Redefine Your Plan for Meeting Your Child’s Special Needs

Class # 2: Be the Best Advocate You Can Be for You and Your Child

Class # 3: Build and Manage Your Dream Team

Class # 4: My Top 7 Tips for Self-Care as a Special Needs Parent

This course will take special needs parents on a journey in rediscovering joy and balance. As we advocate for and support our children to lead fuller and richer lives, it is also possible for us as parents to experience this same richness for ourselves. In finding the best help for our children, we can recognize that we are worthy recipients of a thriving life, too!

Please join me on this journey as we learn + laugh + cry + celebrate together. Whether you have been a special needs family for many years or have just received a diagnosis for your child, this class is for you!

Frequently Asked Questions:

When does the course start and finish?

Life Management for Special Needs Families: An Ultimate Resource Guide for Creating a Thriving Life is open for enrollment. You can start or stop the class whenever you would like as it is 100% self-paced! We will dive deep into the following topics: Class # 1: Redefine Your Plan for Meeting Your Child’s Special Needs Class # 2: Be the Best Advocate You Can Be for You and Your Child Class # 3: Build and Manage Your Dream Team Class # 4: My Top 7 Tips for Self-Care as a Special Needs Parent

The entire course is available within a self-paced online classroom environment. All content is pre-recorded and will be accessible for life. Lectures, powerpoint, PDF files, homework questions; all included.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices you own.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 10 days and we will give you a full refund.

How do I enroll?

The class is available for purchase here.

How much does the course cost?

I am currently running an introductory promotion for $149 (regular price: $249). You also have the option to make monthly payments if that is easier.

Looking forward to having you in my classroom! Feel free to send me an email with any questions you might have.

A Podcast Interview with Greatness Adjacent by Jenny Lind

 

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(Experiencing my life reborn anew and transformed!)

It was my honor to sit down with Jenny Lind, host of the hit podcast “Greatness Adjacent.” She wanted to hear my story and I was happy to share it. Before the interview, she asked if any questions were off limits – and I said, “No.” If I’m going to tell my story, I would like to be transparent about it. And now I would like to share it with you all (link below)!

From Greatness Adjacent:

This woman is grace personified. She had a master plan for her life. Everything went according to her plan until she had her daughter, Arizona, thirteen years ago. Arizona is on the Autism spectrum. At first, the diagnosis felt dark and hopeless. She was lost, she and her husband got divorced. For the past eleven years, Susanna has devoted herself to helping Arizona. In the process, she learned basically everything there is to know about Autism and the resources that are available. She started advising families as she went, to share the wealth of knowledge she was gaining. She is now a certified life coach for families of children with special needs, an Autism advocate, and she recently launched an online program to offer the resource guide she wishes she had in the beginning. In addition, she is a reiki healer who offers women’s retreats throughout the year. She says today, as a single mama to a child with special needs and a life coach to families of children with special needs, she’s the happiest she’s ever been in her life. Her transformation is extraordinary.

Link below to listen or read the transcription:

https://greatnessadjacentpodcast.com/susanna-peace-lovell-the-phoenix/

How I Became a Life Coach …

 

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(Life Coach At Your Service!)

I am often asked how I got into the business and practice of being a life coach and specifically a life coach for special needs families. My answer is simply this: the PAIN in my own life (and experiences as a mother to a child with myriad special needs and challenges) pushed me until a very specific VISION started pulling me toward it.

When this journey started, I had to coach myself daily (and sometimes multiple times a day during the most challenging times) to simply: keep moving, stay hopeful, find joy (in even the simplest things) and continue choosing a life of service as a vessel made to fulfill a greater purpose.

I used to be so desperate during those dark days – asking why I was chosen to be a mother of a child who needed so much attention. I used to think that the most I could ever accomplish was to make it to the next day. I was not aware that I could actually participate in a life of joy and deep happiness, ever again. I did not know that this was available to me.

Today I still coach myself even though my experiences are for more vibrantly joyous than dark and hopeless. And when I have the really good days, I take time to express my gratitude for having a good day.

I know how much time and effort and intention I have put into my own life to get me to a place of peace and acceptance. I wish for all of my special needs families to get to that same place and it is my life’s work to reach as many of you as possible, to be a guiding light to you and to find power and strength from your experiences as well.

Thank you for allowing me a platform and audience to tell my story, speak my truth and share my toolbox of resources.

As always, let me know what you’d like me to share more about. I am at your service!

With Much Love,

Susanna Peace Lovell