But blogging has done much more than that.
Let's start with the good stuff:
When I first started writing this blog, it was truly a life-saver. It really helped me deal with some of my emotions and feelings regarding Lily's special needs. It was therapeutic to write it all down, get it all out there and off my chest - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It gave people a glimpse into our everyday lives that hopefully educated them on what it's like to raise a child with special needs, therefore opening their eyes and hearts to families all around them in need of understanding and compassion.
It also helped me to focus on the positive aspects of our life with the Bird. To look for the silver lining. To look for blessings in the midst of the sorrow. And to remember to laugh when I felt like crying. I learned the true meaning of joy no matter the circumstances.
And y'all. The people I met? Astounding. I discovered this amazing community of special needs bloggers that welcomed me with open arms, commenting on my thoughts, sharing helpful advice, commiserating on bad days, offering solace, comfort, encouragement, and understanding. The sense of relief I felt in knowing that others were living this same life right alongside me was huge. I found a whole other kind of family and they continue to be a blessing to me in so many ways.
So there I was, just trucking along, writing five days a week on my own blog. Then visiting other blogs, checking in with my online buddies, leaving comments, tweeting, and just generally trying to keep up with their lives, too. I mean, I felt connected to these precious people and I wanted to know what was going on in their lives, how their kids were doing, what was going on in school, how their vacations went, and so on.
And here's where the blogging turned a little bit bad for me:
I could not stop thinking about special needs.
I was writing about it myself. I was reading what other people wrote about it. I was researching it. I was reading books on it. I was searching Pinterest for therapy ideas. I was food shopping and cooking with special needs diets on my brain. I was reading my Bible and constantly relating everything to special needs.
Slowly, but surely, I lost myself in special needs.
I had no escape.
My mom asked me one day what I would do if I quit doing anything at all that had to do with special needs and I honestly couldn't come up with an answer. I didn't even know what I wanted to do anymore.
And that, my friends, is not a healthy way to live.
And I had done it to myself.
I felt guilty if I wasn't spending all my free time doing something related to special needs. If I was watching mindless television, that was time I should have spent coming up with new snack ideas for Lily's diet. If I was reading a fun book, that was time I should have spent on the computer, researching autism. If I spent a few hours walking the mall, that was time I should have spent preparing some therapy activities for when Lily got home from school.
And have I mentioned that I have two other daughters who occasionally like to have a little bit of my undivided attention?
I knew I shouldn't let special needs consume me but I felt guilty if it didn't.
There's irony in there somewhere, I'm sure of it.
Now, to June. Ryan was taking the whole month off from work. So after much thinking, I decided to take the month off from blogging. And I wasn't going to read other blogs, or be on Twitter and Facebook that much. I was doing a little unplugging.
And guess what?
I freaked out for about two weeks.
I didn't realize how wrapped up I'd gotten in writing my blog. And reading your blogs. My mind was constantly on the lookout for blog material.
But more than that, I thought I was going to be exposed as someone who didn't care about special needs. As someone who had just given up on her daughter and trying to find the next best thing for her life.
Ummmm.... hello? That's a little extreme, don't you think?
But after those slightly panicky two weeks, I started to relax. To enjoy. To quit thinking about blogging and special needs. To love on my family. To spend time with the Bird without trying to teach her anything. To just play.
And it was simply lovely.
Now, I still want to blog, for all those same good reasons I mentioned up there in the beginning. But I want to maintain that simple loveliness I discovered during my "sabbatical".
So here's the new and improved plan for Along Came the Bird:
I will blog two days a week, typically Tuesdays and Fridays. I may occasionally throw a Wordless Wednesday picture up there, but more than likely, those cute photos will only appear on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I will visit my sweet online friends and their blogs on Tuesdays and Fridays as well. I know that means I might be a little behind in hearing some of your news but I'll still enjoy catching up with you and hearing about what's going on in your neck of the woods.
I will read for fun. I will wander the mall every now and then. I will watch some mindless television. I will do less and as a result, accomplish more.
And I will not feel guilty.