Special Needs, Special Families 12/30/10
Best Wishes and Positive Thoughts For The New Year
By Rob Wrubel, CFP®
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
- Oprah Winfrey
Living with and caring for a person with special needs takes an enormous amount of energy, effort, compassion and care. Our lives can be filled with great joy and depressing pain. One day we may be up, thrilled with the progress, happiness or love that comes into our life, the next day we are thrown in to turmoil with a medical emergency, step backward or unexpected hurdle. This is the time of year where many people review the last year, look forward to the next and make decisions about how the next year will be better, different and more fulfilling. You have a choice to make about whether you feel positive or negative about last year. Of course, there are parts of life we wish we had improved and opportunities we missed. There were likely times of great stress and sorrow. Some people never like to look back because it is too depressing or the year too difficult to be remembered.
Take some time after reading this note to reframe how you feel about last year. Write down or think through your accomplishments. Appreciate the pieces of life that went well, the memories created or the people who are in your life today. Take the time to remember the joy, thrills and excitement and all the small and big events that you enjoyed. Then, take a moment to look towards the new year and write down a few goals, dreams or expectations. You have one more step. Write down action items for each goal—steps you will need to take to accomplish your goal and put your plan in motion.
One highlight for my family happened recently.
My daughter with Down syndrome read two complete sentences from one of her books titled, “There’s A Mouse In The House.” Our entire family celebrated. Two complete sentences was a big step and we look forward to more. We expect that my daughter will be a reader as she shows great interest in books and has begun to tell us more and more about the story and detail of her books. She reads and understands many of her “sight” words, even if she misses some easy ones from time to time. The best part was her excitement and pride in her accomplishment. Her big brother and little sister shared in the celebration. The entire house was abuzz.
We have had similar moments for our other children and will have many more as all of them learn, grow and develop. We are not sure what 2011 will bring for her. My desire is that she will read more sentences and then a book where she understands the plot and action without relying on her teachers or us. She gets stronger each day and gains in verbal ability every few months. Action steps for me include letting her take more time each night before bed to read the words in her books aloud to me. Another action step is to continue working with her teacher and her aide to challenge my daughter. Repetition works well and one more step is to have her build confidence by reading the same books a few times. What will your family expect and look forward to in 2011? What achievements are you celebrating as the year 2010 comes to an end?
I am a financial planner and investment advisor who works with families with special needs members. Why am I even asking you to focus on your accomplishments of last year—most of which are not financial?
I see that the people who can become excited with the future and can review the past without depression and anxiety are more likely to save, reduce debt and invest in themselves. I want you to become one of the people who win financially over the next few years. Your financial life helps make all the other pieces work. Your short term savings protect against the unexpected costs and help you create peace of mind. Your retirement assets pay you an income you will need down the road. Your investments to fund a trust help you build a future for your special needs family member not completely dependent on government benefits.
Happy New Year to you and your family.
Rob Wrubel is a Senior Investment Consultant with Cascade Investment Group, member FINRA & SIPC. Cascade Investment Group is not a tax or legal advisor. You should always consult with your tax advisor or attorney before taking any actions that may have tax consequences.