Nostalgia- and a piece of old writing….

I wrote this post ages ago, feeling it again. Enjoy. From 2013….


Fuubutshushi is a Japanese term that means, “Things that remind you of a certain season/time of year/holiday etc”. So it’s all of the scents, sights, sounds and tastes that bring an event rushing to your mind…

Like cinnamon and Pine scents at Christmas, or the scent of frying Latkes at Hanukkah… Or the sight of turning leaves at the very end of summer, telling you that fall is approaching… the dry crisp air after a midwinter snow- you know the kind that is so cold that it makes your chest contract as you breathe it in…

Recently, for me, Fuubutshushi has meant something else… I’ve been going through all my baby things… We’re all done having babies, and after five of them, you would think that this would be easier, but deciding what to let go- what to keep for a baby clothes quilt or for a keepsake- is so hard…

Those tiny clothes make me remember little baby smiles and coo’s… the sweet soft scent of their little heads when they were very new. The feel of the small weight of a wee girl in your arms late at night when all is quiet, and you have the mental energy to notice those things… So many memories over 15 years of motherhood, so many babies, so many evenings pacing the floor, nursing, changing tiny diapers… 

The wonderful intimacy of being in labor with your partner supporting you- waiting for a small someone who will then keep you up all night, worry you, scare you, fill your life with joy and wonderment… Who will break your heart and fill it up at the same time…

Sitting on the floor sorting it is a sort of sweet torture, a joyful mourning… A pain so bright and sharp it’s like a knife edge… And the wound it leaves, just like a sharp knife, hurts but heals neatly in the end, leaving you whole but with a fine scar to remember…

My children are growing up. I am working myself out of the best job I have ever had… Which is of course the goal in raising good kids- the goal that at some point, they don’t need you as a parent so much.

I decided to keep a small selection of little baby boy and little baby girl outfits, blankies and toys, I need Fuubutshushi for later on, when they are grown and I want to remember.

A is Ok

Sarah* (Name changed to protect identity) is sitting across from me, looking beautiful at 8 months pregnant, but overwhelmed. “How are you doing?” I ask pointedly, wondering what has got her so down and frazzled looking.

“It’s just, we found out out that our first daughter is Autistic… I couldn’t figure out why she was doing things differently, so I called Early Intervention for an evaluation…” (The absolute right thing to do, fyi) “All the tests came back that she has Autism, and they want to start all of these OT and PT and therapy appointments at the house, and I have to take her to Milford for some things, and an interventional pediatrician at childrens… it’s just all so much! And with the new baby coming, what am I going to do?!”

Now, as you may have gathered from our previous interactions as writer and reader, I do not consider Autism to be a “problem” as such. I think it is an amazing neuroadaptation to modern life and simply another way that folks are born looking at the world. So, with these thoughts in mind, I looked at her and said…

“You know your daughter is fine, right?”

She stared at me.

“Well, I know she will be, but….”

“No, no, she’s fine. Really. Sure, going forward, there will be things that you will need to help her learn so that she can interact with neurotypical people effectively, and habits such as bathing, remembering to eat and talk to folks- because she likely won’t be concerned with those things- but truly, she is fine. There is nothing wrong with her. What we need to do, is to help you understand how she thinks, so that you can communicate effectively with her too.”

Sarah and I spent the next two hours discussing things her daughter was doing, what they meant, how she could best communicate with the little girl, and so on. We also discussed therapeutic modalities that OT’s and PT’s might use, and speech therapists etc, diet changes and more. Just before it was time to go, she looked at me and said, “You have just totally reframed this whole thing for me… I can see her now clearly, and not just a set of issues to be dealt with. What a relief to just have her be my kid again, and not a series of appointments to attend….”

Your Autistic is fine. Your Autistic is amazing. Your autistic will blow your mind with how they see things. Your Autistic will never, ever live inside the box- because they do not perceive any boxes. No box of societal norms, no box of expectations or “Should do’s”, no box of what is “true” and what isn’t…. Can you imagine the world without Einstein? Or Newton? Or Rami Malek, or Tim Burton, or Bill Gates? Or Temple Grandin- who taught the world about animal feelings and emotions? Or Charles Darwin, who looked at the world and saw the beautiful fluctuations in the natural world, and helped us understand that everything changes, grows and adapts perfectly to its environment. As will your Autistic. Your brilliant, life changing, detail seeing, magic making Autistic, will adapt to the world they find themselves in- a world behind them in observational skills and perception, behind their ability to abstract… and they will quietly pull you, and us forward with them- showing us the light, the beauty, the tiny detail, the importance we miss.

Listen, watch and learn. They will show you the way. And you will show them the way to share their perceptions with the rest of us, and we will all be grateful.

“Close both eyes to see with the other eye, Open your hands if you want to be held…” – Rumi

Nail Polish

I’ve had a bottle of pink nail polish on my vanity for about two weeks…. its a really nice bottle of gel polish that I got after signing three clients in one week. Little things, you know?

But it’s still there. Unused. And my nails, are a disaster haha! Chipped, broken… in fact, as I was wrapping a new mamas belly this week, all I kept seeing were my ugly nails as I tied the ties and spun the wrap around her midsection…

Of course, then I looked up at the beautiful mama with her perfect curly hair, her sweet smile and the new baby asleep on the couch next to us- his little hands relaxed and arms flat on the cushion- totally content…. I was forced- and gratefully so, to refocus.

A few hours earlier she had been crying, so worried that her baby wasn’t getting enough to eat, that she wasn’t making enough milk, that the formula she was using wasn’t the best food for him… but my co worker and good friend, Samantha, and I had both been working very hard to help this mom see her intuition was valuable over the last two days… to see that her instincts were good, that she was perfect as a woman and mother- regardless of how her baby was fed and whether or not her milk ever came in (It did!).

And now, she was smiling.

We moms, and women in general, tend to only see the broken bits of ourselves, and miss the 99% of us thats perfect, skilled, amazing, thoughtful, even genius… we see a broken nail and unused polish instead of the happy mom in front of us who feels confident now because we believe in her…

Robert Frost said, “How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?”

You know? It occurs to me that we are good enough. Good enough with chipped nails, and unused polish and slow milk or no milk and single, married, working or not, tired, busy, fried, overwhelmed, perfect, beautiful, ugly, big, small, curly or frizzy hair, medicated or unmedicated….

Good Enough.

You are a good mom.

You are great, right now. Today. I see you.



I’m finally writing. I’ve wanted start this path for a long while, but kept letting things get in the way. No more.

I’m a mom of five children, all with ADHD and/or Autism, and everyone in my family, aside from me, also has ADHD and or is in the Autism spectrum of continual amazement. I am boringly neurotypical, aside from some mild sensory issues and noting that all numbers seem to be assigned a color.

I want you to understand my philosophy, before we continue together, ok? I do not see people with ADHD, or folk with Autism etc as having a pathology, or disorder, or really an issue whatsoever, other than that they- to the great benefit of all of us- think differently. And wonderfully so.

I am a big fan of labels, because when you have a name for a face, you can address it warmly and appropriately; “Hello autism, I see you are very creative today…” or “Hello ADHD, I see that you are perfecting that cancer cure today…” You don’t ask either how they are feeling by the way- they rarely know, and asking will shut down the creative mind and turn on terror. You can see how they feel- watch them, hear them, ask interesting questions.

I want to write about my discoveries in being a mom, wife, daughter and sister to these amazing people, and I want to write about my discoveries in helping my clients heal, grow and move forward while assisting them in becoming parents. I am a Birth, Postpartum and Grief/Death Doula with formal education in Biology, Veterinary Nursing, and Anthropology. In addition, I hold numerous certifications in the field of Doula Studies, Grief, Death and Dying, Postpartum Mental Health and Parental Advocacy- some 240 hours post college. To put this in perspective, a Bachelors degree is 120 hours, a Masters is 60. My husband keeps asking me how many letters do I need after my name? All of them! I feel the need to keep learning always, expanding my understanding of human beings, and our needs and relationships, our baggage, our faiths, our traumas, and our transitions.

So why then, is this blog called Thinkin’ Problems?

When my middle son was 7, and in school about halfway through first grade, he came to me and said, “Mommy, I think I have a thinkin problem!” “A thinkin problem!? What sort of problem?” I asked smiling at him. “Like David (my husband, his step-father) you know, how his brain moves too fast and he takes pills that help him catch it? I need those. Can we talk to Dr. Rob about my thinkin problem?” “Yes, baby, we can talk to Dr. Rob about your thinkin problem” And so we did. And Ewan was given Concerta, and he never looked back. Prior to my husband, and understanding him, adhd medications and the like, I wasn’t at all for medicating adhd. I am now. I learned things, saw my husband and children and others become the people they want to be with it. I am also a fan of cognitive help for the child, for 504 plans, and for treating the person like they are just fine, thank you very much. In this house, and in my practice, medications are TOOLS, therapy is a TOOL, loving kindness and reframing how we see things are TOOLS.

So is it a Thinkin problem to have adhd, or to be autistic, or to have ptsd, or deep seated shame or anything else? Depends on how you look at it- doesn’t it? ADHD breeds amazing hyperfocus, that has lead to many profound discoveries and achievements- Elon Musk has ADHD, and so does Bill Gates. Autism leads a person to be completely out of “The Box” as it were- they don’t have a box, ever. Einstein was Autistic. PTSD is painful, but in reframing your experience, working with a loving person to help guide you, you begin to discover- not that you are a perpetual victim, and not even just a survivor- but that you are still a whole person, and a damned strong one too for that matter. In deconstructing your shame, you reframe yourself, and see your beauty. You see how to love yourself and others unconditionally so that there is no more shame.

So, thats the beginning of how I approach folks as a mom, and a guide (I’m not a therapist- I don’t deal with difficult pathologies as a professional, just fyi). I meet people right where they are and stay with them, right where they are as they go along. No agenda.

Thanks for joining me.

  • Dana Oakes-Sand AS, BS, CCE, MCD, NWPP