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empathy

Family, Guest Posts, healing, Holidays

Dead Christmas Trees, Brain Injuries & Finding The Beauty.

December 29, 2014

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By Karen Pyros-Szatkowski.

When I lived in New York City after college, too many years ago, I’d be so saddened the weeks following Christmas walking by apartment buildings seeing the discarded, used up Christmas trees piled in front, waiting to be picked up by the garbage collectors. I was in no way a tree-hugging, save-the-earth activist back then, but for some reason, these trees, some still with tinsel on the branches, made me view the city as a morgue and a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness and despair would replace the holiday happy from a few days before. The trees of all shapes and sizes, some tall and skinny, others short and more full, ugly Charlie Brown trees, and beautiful prize worthy ones, whatever fit into the lives of the former owners’ apartment spaces, had now served their purpose and lay, most of them without bags, on the cold New York City sidewalks, atop their own fallen needles. They were once connected to and nurtured by the earth, then worshipped and adorned with beautiful decorations… a proud centerpiece in the apartments, the holiday, and now tossed out like garbage. Actually, that’s exactly what they had become. Garbage. Although I never, ever, bought a real tree after my first Christmas in New York, I certainly don’t make any judgment on those that chose the natural over the unnatural; that’s not what this is about. I know that for every tree cut down, others are planted and farms grow trees just for Christmas pleasure. It is not a moral choice for me; it’s an emotion. I know real trees look much more beautiful, fully decorated, than the artificial ones, and I do love the smell of pine, but the memories of those discarded trees piled many feet high like dead bodies awaiting their disposal left too much of an impact on me, too much of a sadness, not because of the waste, but because of the abandoned love. From the pedestal to the street. Beauty completely stripped to nothingness. Life to death.

I’ve been feeling similar emotions recently, but not due to Christmas trees. I feel so much pain and sadness, all around me and not all mine. Being so easily connected through social media and website magazines, Damon’s story has reached out past the community in which we live to a much larger audience. Because of this, I’ve been connected to many new friends and reconnected to many old friends, so many of whom are affected either themselves or through family members by traumatic brain injury, death, or just horrible diseases. In our pre accident life I never would have crossed paths with most of these people. In our pre accident life I would never have been able to so deeply feel their pain. So many have reached out to us to share their own stories, looking both for inspiration from our journey and hoping to add support to theirs. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration

Compassion. Guest Post by Rachel P.

November 11, 2011

The following is a guest post by this girl named Rachel Pastiloff. Oh yea, she happens to be my sister. She is the mom of the little boy who prompted me to start GAMEYoga.org: Gifts And Miracles Everyday. Free Yoga For Kids With Special Needs.

COMPASSION

(by Rachel Pastiloff)

I have had the concept of compassionon my mind a lot lately and how important I believe it is to have it.We live in a crazy world. For so many of us these times are tough times. I know people right now who have lost their home, lost their jobs, have a child who is dying, have a marriage that is failing, are diagnosed with breast cancer. The list goes on, sadly. My God, it can be overwhelming.

I think to myself everyday:I must have compassion, I must have empathy.
Why do I do this? I do this because all of these people deserve it. I believe everybody deserves compassion. I do it sometimes even for those that we think are unworthy. Again, some of you may ask why?
Here is the nitty gritty of it all. I want others to have compassion for me and compassion for my son.If you want to see change, then you have to be the change!

I was recently told a story by a friend of mine about his little brother who has Aspergers’ Syndrome. Everyday when his little brother goes to school the kids say to him, “What’s up Forrest Gump,” “Hey Forrest Gump,” and then the other slurs begin. I cried when I heard this.

How could this be in 2011 that our children could have such little empathy and compassion for each other?
THEY LEARNED IT AT HOME.
We have got to start teaching our children young about how to feel for others, how to care for others, and how to really see people for who they are and not what they “can” and “cannot do”.
As the mother of a child who has special needs, I am continually baffled by the lack of compassion in the world. Often times, it is those who are closest to us who have the least amount of empathy for our situations. As the parent of a child with special needs I spend everyday just trying to get through the day. Let me repeat myself. I spend everyday just trying to get through the day.
It is tough when you have a child with special needs or any medical condition.Okay, so where am I going with all of this…what the true purpose of this entry, on my sister’s blog is…

What can you do?

Yes, you.Compassion and empathy can make such a difference in the life of a person with special needs or the parent of a child with special needs. When you are out at the store and you see a mom struggling, and you see the child in the midst of a crisis, PLEASE DON’T JUDGE! What you can do is: reach out.

HAVE COMPASSION.
Instead of mumbling to yourself, “Oh that kid is such a brat” why not walk by and just smile at the mother? Do you know how much it would me to her? Just smile at her, and without even saying anything, let her know that it is okay, that she is okay.I was recently at the airport with Blaise. We were waiting to board the plane and he was beginning his meltdown. He was really struggling and I was so tired and just exhausted from running to the gate to make the plane. I just couldn’t bring him out of the meltdown. Then all of a sudden an older couple in front of me turned to look at me. The woman must have read Blaise’s name on his backpack and so she started talking to him. Low and behold he stopped being upset. We started to board the plane and she turned again and smiled at me. I smiled back and thought to myself, “Thank you, thank you sweet stranger, thank you for reaching out!”

Such a small little gesture went such a long way.


How many of you out there have a friend with a child with special needs, or have a family member with special needs? I bet a ton of you answered yes. If you answered yes, then please think about doing this.

  • Reach out to your friends or family, send them a message just to say hello. 
  • Don’t get mad at them if they can’t come to all of your parities or get togethers, sometimes it is just too hard. 
  • If they seem to disappear sometimes it is not personal, life can be rather tricky for them. 

I only ask this of you, always have empathy, always remember that every family looks different. Please don’t judge your friends or family or strangers on how you think they are raising their kids.

PLEASE ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS ONE LAST THING (I said it earlier)

As the parent of a child with special needs we are just trying to get through the day!

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My sister Rachel is an amazing person, Dear Manifesters. Please share this post and support us at GAMEyoga.org even if it is just by smiling at someone who may seem a but different. 
I have made t-shirts and all money is going to Prader Willi research and well as Tay Sachs research. Please order shirts by emailing Jennifer@JenniferPastiloff.com and specify size. Also, if you are not a fan already, become one of the ” I am a Fan of Somebody with Prader Willi Fanpage” on Facebook here.
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