Special Needs Parenting: Finding Hope and Possibility With The Mindset of Maybe

Yesterday, Carolyn Greene Dalgliesh, author of the groundbreaking book, The Sensory Child Gets Organized, reviewed my book, The Gift of Maybe. Carolyn beautifully captures one of the most powerful aspects of incorporating Maybe into all of our lives. I just had to share it with all of you!

mother daughter love

The journey of special needs parenting can be filled with uncertainty and stress. You can find yourself constantly trapped in a place of regret about decisions / experiences from the past or constant worry about your child’s future. This can leave many of us experiencing daily life with depression or anxiety – lacking any hope about what might come. Of course, there are many external tools to support our child’s journey – specialized therapy, social tools, visual supports – all things that can be an amazing support on our special needs parenting journey.

But what about a tool that changes us from the inside out? What about a tool that changes our internal perspective about our external experience? What about a tool that changes our mindset, gives us a new way to meet the uncertainly of special needs parenting? What about a tool that gives us space to examine the here and now with hope and possibility? Herein lies the power of “THE GIFT OF MAYBE: Finding Hope and Possibility in Uncertain Times” by Allison Carmen.

As one who has always believed that small changes reap big impacts, “THE GIFT OF MAYBE” is the little gift that keeps on giving. This book is a perspective game changer. Allison Carmen, a life coach and business consultant, has created a tool can help you shift your mindset about everything. As someone who is a multi-modality learner, “THE GIFT OF MAYBE” is filled with Taoist stories, real-life client examples, visualization exercises, mini-meditations, and Maybe-mantras. It allows you to experience and then absorb this new reality from many different angles. MAYBE starts from a small place but quickly ripples out to all of life’s experiences. It can work anywhere or anytime an experience or feeling has you trapped in stress or anxiety. “THE GIFT OF MAYBE” teaches us how to be open to life’s possibilities from a place of hope instead of a place of fear.

The Power of MAYBE in my life right now:

MAYBE my child’s current struggle holds a hidden gift – for him and for me.

MAYBE when my child can says “I can’t do it this way anymore”, I can be open to a whole new way that is even better than I imagined.

MAYBE when I ask for parenting help, I’ll get to feel the love and support I have in my life and the love and support for my child.

MAYBE through my child’s challenges, I can begin to accept and understand my own challenges with love and understanding. MAYBE this is his greatest gift to me.

MAYBE I can learn to meet all uncertainty with hope.

MAYBE today is all I need to live fully and joyfully.

Sometimes, our rigid predictions of how life will be for our special needs child (and for us as parents) is the biggest hindrance there is. “THE GIFT OF MAYBE” gives us a new internal mindset for meeting the uncertainty of daily life. It gives us ways to create mental space for new possibilities and leaves us open to new outcomes. “THE GIFT OF MAYBE” is that parenting tool that can change everything because it changes us ~


What Are You Missing In Your Life?

“Life is available only in the present moment.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

A few years ago I went in a store, bought a drink, and left. A few minutes later I could not remember where I put the change from buying the drink. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the face of the cashier or any observations about the store. It’s not that I have memory problems; in fact my memory is very strong. So what happened? I realized I had been lost in thought. I was so lost in my own story of everything I needed to do and everywhere I needed to go that I was completely unaware of what I was doing in the moment.

I then started to wonder how many other parts of my life I was missing while lost in my thoughts. Was I really listening to my children, husband and friends? Was I going through the day missing interacting with people, my environment and even opportunities that came my way because I was thinking about my blog, my next meeting or my next meal?

So I did an experiment. I decided to silently recite a mantra all day long while I was moving from place to place so I would not get lost in my thoughts. I also said my mantra before meeting with someone or while engaged in any activity. The mantra I picked that day was “love first.” For me it worked as a constant reminder that my awareness, kindness and actions throughout the day were more important than my thoughts.

At first it was a little awkward. I actually felt “over focused” on everyone I came in contact with and everything I did. And there were also pauses between my words as I saw the color of each person’s eyes. Yet, as I laid my head down to sleep that night, I recalled the waitress at the restaurant who said she was tired because it was Friday, the doorman who told me he was taking care of his sick mother and my daughter who told me she had pasta for lunch. I remembered the breeze on my face as I walked to pick up my daughter from school and how a cup of green tea had tasted. I realized that I had gotten a lot of work done that day, and yet the day was filled with something much more. I had connected with so many people, my environment and I had even been aware of my feelings as I went about my business.

I also felt less burdened by the endless list of everything that I needed to do in the next few days because there was a new awareness of life as it was happening. I realized that there is little peace for me when I am lost in thought because the to-do list always grows and there are always more goals to achieve. Nothing ever feels completely done. Yet the replacement of my random thoughts with an ever-present mantra created a wholeness and completeness that left me satisfied exactly where I was in the moment.

Maybe try a mantra or word of your own that constantly brings you back to where you are and what you are doing. You might find that there is so much more to each moment than there ever was before. The trees have many more beautiful leaves and the sky offers so many glorious moments to pause and admire the awe of it all. We also might find that our sweet children have so much more to say than we’ve been hearing. And yes, ice cream. Eat ice cream while saying your mantra. It will taste like never before!

Just, Maybe!!

Finding the Sweetness in Life Even When Times Are Tough

Ripe strawberry over wooden table background

A man walking across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, and the tiger chased after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine hanging from a tree and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from the edge of the cliff. Terrified, dangling, the man looked down. Far below, another tiger had come and was waiting to eat him. Meanwhile, from the tree branch above him, two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. Suddenly, amidst all of this, the man noticed a luscious strawberry growing out of the edge of the chasm. Grasping the vine in one hand, he reached out and plucked the strawberry with the other and ate it. How sweet it tasted!

I remember hearing this story when I was young but I never really understood it. I never understood why anyone would eat a strawberry when he or she should be trying to escape the tigers! It wasn’t until years later that I finally got it.

I had just found out my mother had breast cancer, and I was walking to meet her for dinner. My mind was seized by the most frightening thoughts of losing my mother and what this illness would mean. Panic overcame me. All of a sudden, a beautiful breeze hit my face and an enveloping peace and joy ran through me. Was it okay for me to feel this joy when danger was looming over my family? And then I realized, aha! This is the strawberry. I got to dinner, and the peace and joy stayed with me. My mother and I held hands and we laughed and cried a bit. And throughout that evening the depth of my joy was profound. I was acutely aware that in that moment there was nothing else to do but be present with one another. Sure, there would be a time to act on her illness and decisions to be made, but at that moment it was time to eat the strawberry. How sweet it tasted!

I am sure you realize that the story stops after the man eats the strawberry because the message of this story is to be in the moment. But my Maybe Mind says, “Hey, we have no idea what happens to the man. He could fall to his death after he enjoys the strawberry, but Maybe he is saved by a friend, or Maybe the tiger leaves for other prey or the man figures out another way out of the situation.” Adding hope and possibility to the story makes it easier to enjoy the strawberry and at the same time be aware that new possibilities can arise. This is when we realize that the unexpected can be our friend. It always brings change and change offers us not just obstacles but also new ways to move forward.

So whatever you are facing today, whether it is financial troubles, illness, or another crisis, be sure to find the strawberries when you can. This is the true essence of being alive, no matter what the future brings. Staying in the present is like opening the window to life. Maybe when you are not even looking the winds will change, offering you a way out of whatever you are experiencing.

Reprinted from The Gift of Maybe by Allison Carmen by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, Copyright © 2014 by Allison Carmen.


Penguin Random House Publishes The Gift Of Maybe and is Now Available For Purchase!

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As many of you know, The Gift of Maybe has been published by Penguin Random House and is available for sale today!  Here is a review of my book from The Library Journal.

One addiction that’s gotten little play is that of an obsession with certainty. Life coach and business consultant Carmen has experienced firsthand the need continually to be assured that things would turn out as she had planned. Her struggle caused untold stress and thwarted many of her ideas and projects. When she discovered the concept of maybe—that situations could unfold in myriad ways—she wrote this book to help other sufferers. Carmen uses her own and others’ experiences to explain how one can embrace life’s uncertainties as opportunities, develop hope in unlimited possibilities, and enjoy the present as a true gift.
Verdict A little gem of a book with a positive and powerful message.—Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ

Tonight we are celebrating the launch at 6 p.m. at Barnes and Noble located in Tribeca in New York City.  If you are in the neighborhood, please join us!

It has been a long and wonderful journey and having Maybe by my side has made it all possible.  I want to thank everyone that subscribes to my blog for their support and interest in my work.

The book is available at all major book stores, as well as online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ITunes and other online book retailers.

Also, you can find more of my work on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

Its just one change of perspective, but MAYBE changes everything!!!!