Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Power of Now

Had a dream last night I was driving without my headlights on. Suddenly realized the night was dark, and I couldn't see a thing. Even during the dream I was alarmed that I hadn't realized they were off. Still not sure if the symbolism is:

A) I didn't turn them on, and preferred being in the dark

B) I was able to drive along not knowing where I was going

C) I realized I could shed light on the subject anytime I wanted

D) All of the above

So, that about sums it up around here. We are in a period of unknown, change, transition, uncertainty, in more than one aspect of our lives. It's hard for us Planners, the Type A'ers, the ones that thrive on efficiency, and execution of a well-prepared plan. 

I am having to remind myself daily, sometimes hourly, to stay in the moment, stay present. Breathe. Let go of outcomes after doing my best. That being loving is more important than being right (or heard). That some karmic ties and stories just have to play out, despite any efforts on my part to change that.

"Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence" Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now





Monday, June 29, 2015

Enough to Go Around


It is my great and sincere honor to tell you about my friend Tanya's latest book. Tanya's first book, Slip, came out after I'd already become a fan of Tanya's writing, and an appreciator of all the good work she's done to spread awareness on the topics of autism and bipolar disorder. I was given the opportunity to be an early reader of Enough to Go Around. The book was sent to me as an e-mail attachment, and I damn near got carpal tunnel from scrolling, scrolling, scrolling for hours on end, as I was unable to "put it down." Below is a short interview I did with Tanya, about her latest work. Enjoy!

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROCESS OF WRITING THIS BOOK:


Enough to Go Around has been a process of discovery and a labor of love for most of my life. As a child I would go to my paternal grandparents’ home for various holidays, and while sitting around the dining room table eating traditional Slovakian food I would listen to many stories my grandparents told about their growing up years in Czechoslovakia and their immigration experiences. I was intrigued and often entertained by these stories, and when I was assigned a genealogy project in seventh grade, I brought a tape recorder and a notebook to their house and listened intently while they retold their stories. It was then that the idea of writing a book about them came into being.
Years passed – worked my way through college, became a single parent – and the story began to take shape although there wasn’t much writing time. Characters evolved, a video was given to me of a trip my dad took with his sister to Slovakia, and I borrowed books from my dad to use for research. My initial idea was to create a fictional account of my grandparents’ experiences (because there were a lot of facts and details I didn’t have), but I also wanted to weave the stories of the past with a present-day extended family and everyone’s lives. I spent years jotting down extensive notes and writing at least a dozen different outlines.
In 2007 I was blessed to take a trip with my father and my sister to Slovakia to do research and meet relatives. It was an amazing and emotional time. We saw the villages where both of my grandparents grew up, visited the graves of my great-grandparents, and met relatives we didn’t know we had. 
My life with my two sons, one of whom has autism, influenced me to write Slip, my first novel. I set Enough to Go Around aside for a while (which at the time had a different title, one of five over the years). My life was deeply entrenched in the world of special needs and that was where my mind was for several years, so I focused on that subject matter.
But a few years ago I was very happy to get back to the story of my family heritage. I wrote the first full draft during NANOWRIMO in 2008. Since then it continued to evolve into its present state. I am privileged – and thrilled – to be able to share it.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT YOUR READERS TO KNOW:

Enough to Go Around focuses on the theme of family life – its complexity, troubles, and rewards. I wanted to share my family’s heritage, of course, but also other elements of life, such as mistakes, regret, love, loss, and forgiveness. I wanted to foster awareness about bipolar disorder, which one of the main characters has, and how it can affect family life. For this I draw on my personal experience of bipolar, as well as the pain of losing a close family member to cancer, another element of the book. (Sadly, my father died of colon cancer in 2011 and did not see this book come to fruition.) Life is messy, families are fragile, and there are no easy fixes. But sometimes you can sit around the dining room table at Easter and tell jokes and stories and laugh and look around the table and realize that your life may be far from great, it may be really hard at times, but you have these moments to hold onto, these – and other – moments of grace that are just as much a part of that life, and perhaps even more important.




Monday, June 22, 2015

Shelia's



On another venture out of seclusion, I go in search of an ice cream cone. I don’t have to go far before I see a tiny pink building with BJ’s Ice Cream on it. I pull in, and a man appearing to be the owner, pops up from the single table in the place, occupied by what appears to be two of his friends, and welcomes me warmly.

“See anything that looks good?” he asks, “Need a taste of anything, let me know!”

“I see something I know will be good,” I answer, and I don’t need a taste, I’ll have a junior cone with cappuccino fudge.”

He starts to very carefully scoop the ice cream, it’s obvious he’s in no rush, and neither am I, for once in my life.

“Where you from?” he asks.

“Portland,” I reply.

“Oh, then no need to show a passport,” he jokes.

I ask him if he’s from around here, and he says he’s from Lexington, Kentucky. I learn he moved to Oregon when his wife had a job in Eugene. I tell him I used to live in Eugene, too. Turns out we lived very near each other, at the very same time.

“My wife was from England, loved to come to the Oregon Coast, reminded her of the weather in England. When she died, I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself, so I bought this little place and named it after her.”

“BJ?” I ask.

“No, BJ is the type of ice cream we sell, see the little sign next to it, the one that says ‘Shelia’s?’”

“Oh, yes, I see it,” I say.

“Gonna get a bigger sign made, “ he assures me, and I nod indicating my full support.

With each careful scoop of the ice cream scooper, the man honors a woman from England named Shelia. A woman he loved and lost.  A woman who loved the Oregon Coast because it made her feel at home, and now this man makes others feel that way.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Eye-to-Eye



I am away at the beach for three days with the sole purpose of sensory deprivation. I want less. Less sound. Less vibration. Less text alerts. Less of anything and everything that lets me know someone wants something from me.

Two days in, I’m so bored I’m climbing the walls. There is no Wi-Fi. I’ve received notice on my phone we are about to exceed our family data plan for the month. I’m “cheating,” checking e-mails, getting on Facebook, sending a text, making a call.

I’m bored and lonely and I never thought in a million years I’d be bored or lonely.

So, I drive the couple miles into town, and by town, I mean town. First stop is the local convenience store, which promises free Wi-Fi, espresso, used books, some videos for rent, and other sundries. I grab some saltwater taffy, light bulbs, a 6-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, pay and ask for the password. 

I sit down at one of two two-person tables with a vinyl sea-patterned tablecloth, and get to work. I reply to emails, I write a quick blog post, I “like” several things on Facebook.  I’m about to order Wil’s graduation pictures that the professional took of him sort-of shaking the principal’s hand, when a woman wheels up next to me on a motorized scooter.

“Do you mind reaching in the back of my chair and getting out the charger? I’m heading over the bridge, and don’t want to run out of juice!” She is a large woman, spilling out over the chair, gray hair in a ponytail, a face that could be 40, 50 or 60. “The community all chipped in and got me this chair. Great community. I’ve only had it since February. Medicaid is buying me a new one in August. It’s great, now I’m not housebound. I can get out.”

I find the charger, and plug it in directly above my left shoulder. It appears we will be neighbors while her chair charges, as there is nowhere else for her to go, and the cord is not very long.

“Don’t let me bother you,” she says, as she sings the oldies songs that come on the radio, picks up the rocks that are 4 for $1.00, loudly expressing pleasure with each.

It’s clear that whatever nonsense I’ve got going on my computer screen is nothing compared to the story that this woman has, and so I venture in. “Are you from around?”

“I’m from everywhere. I’m Native American. I’m from Montana, I’m from Colorado, I’ve lived all over.”

“So, this community chipped in to buy you this chair? You must be well-loved by the community,” I offer.

“I am,” she smiles. “I’ve got a lot of health problems. I’ve got lupus. I’ve got fibromyalgia. I’ve got arthritis, the kind that’ll cripple ya. I’ve got epilepsy. I’ve got heart issues. I’ve got a lot of health issues. I'm going to give this chair back to the community when Medicaid gives me a new one. It's important to give back, pay it forward. My mom taught me it's important to give back. I like to help people."

She sees the Portland Marathon shirt I’m wearing and asks me about it. It feels cruel to go into too many details of my marathoning, while listening to her long list of health issues.

“I was only supposed to live until 21,” she says, “but I’m 48. I’ve defied the odds. I was a congenital twin. When we were separated at birth, by brother died. I’ve had issues ever since.”

I learned she lives in Section 8 housing with a care giver and the care giver’s husband. “Three’s a crowd, I’m moving out into my own apartment in August.”

I’m ashamed for the few minutes I buried my head in my non-important Internet “needs” while ignoring this woman who so clearly needed human connection.

“It’s not nice here very often, I try to get out when it is. I don’t like crowds much, but I don’t like being in my house all the time, either. “

I learn she takes 20 pills with breakfast, 10 with lunch and 30 with dinner. I learn she technically died three times just last month. “If you have something to say to someone, say it. Don’t take tomorrow for granted,” she wisely shares.

I learn that the life I thought I needed a break from, is a piece-of-cake compared to so many lives riddled with pain, suffering, poverty, isolation.

I learn that sometimes a need for connection goes beyond the tap, tap, tapping of the keyboard, straight into the eyes of a stranger.

“I think my chair is charged up, would you mind unplugging it, rolling up the cord and putting it in that pocket in the back?”

I do so and she asks, “Is my wallet back there? It has a dream-catcher on it. I want to make sure my caregiver put it in there.”

“It’s in here, “ I say.

I hope she catches her dreams.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Very Busy

Graduation is over.

I would tell you all about it (and I will, eventually), but for now, I've very, very otherwise occupied.





Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Centering

I think Wil may be right, we may "need a divorce." When you've managed not to swear at your child, let alone drop the F-bomb in almost 19 years, and then you do, merely because he adjusted the knobs  and buttons to control the heat/defrost in the car (AGAIN), something's got to give.

But, I ask you, is it too much to ask that the person driving the other person day in, day out, essentially wherever and whenever said person likes to go, have some control over the internal temperature of the car, and be able to see out the windows?

A lot of emotion going on and a lot more coming our way before it's "over." We've had a family member in the ER, there's a funeral coming up, there is way too much to do and way too little "reserves" to do it. But, the days are numbered and long days of nothing will be stretching out in front of us in no time.

Isn't life like that? Feast or famine? Too much or too little? Too fast or too slow? Too packed or too boring? The "controls" too "hot" or too "cold?"

It all comes back to the Middle Path, moderation, the gray, the center. And returning to that which we can control.

Our attachment.

Our responses and reactions, or lack thereof.

Our breath.

Amen.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Better Half

Wil has two weeks of school left. After today, only 4 academic days, then he is done being the student, sitting in the chair, being asked to do the last thing on earth he wants to do, forever.

He's a bear every year at this time, but this year it's bear squared. It's allergies. It's spring. It's being done. It's had-enough-yet-can't-get-enough. It's endings and beginnings and transitions and the great unknown. It's being left behind and wanting to spread his wings. It's needing help and wanting to be independent. It's being almost-nineteen in body and about half that in most other ways.

We're both fried, overly emotional and easily upset. In general, we're quite companionable and when we do get on each other's nerves, it's brief and we move on almost instantly.

The last several days we've been at each other's throats. He's being so extra defiant, bossy, demanding, difficult, that it brings out the hard ass in me. Wrong combo.

Yesterday, I picked him and his friend up from school and we were driving home. I asked some innocuous question along the lines of, "Do you have your phone?" and he lost it. Maybe it was reminding him of what he needed to do when we got home. Maybe it was asking that when he take a shower, he remember to wash his hair. Whatever it was, he was not happy with me, and I was not happy with him.

"That's it! We need to break up! We need to spend some time apart! You don't need to worry about me! You worry too much! You don't need to know all my business! We need a divorce! "

His friend chuckled from the backseat, "Wil, are you guys married?"

"We're not married!" he shouted, raising an arm with index finger extended for emphasis, "we're sidekicks!"

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friendship Bracelets



In a city known for it's weirdness, there are areas that are weirder than others. The Hawthorne District is certainly one of the best if weird is what you're after, and although Wil isn't, he's drawn to that area over and over again. In particular, The Gold Door. I have no idea what enticed him into that store in the first place, as it's heavy-laden with incense and stuff, totally over-stimulating and he's not a shopper. But, into The Gold Door we went, and back again and again have we been. He now knows one of the shopkeepers by name, Ariana. Not Ariana Grande, he's quick to point out to all whom he drags with us to The Gold Door. The Gold Door has one of those Zoltar machines, like in the movie "Big." He insists all our guests get a reading as his treat, and they are eerily dead on.

He has bought different rocks and stones, purchased earrings for friends, and bought a little bag to put the treasures in, which he keeps next to his TV watching area for easy access. The last time we were in The Gold Door, we took two of his student assistants with us. We first went to lunch, then to froyo, then to The Gold Door, where he decided the three of them needed friendship bracelets.

And he was right.

They needed friendship bracelets. Not because he will ever in a million years wear his, but because it's a physical tie to two people about to leave and move on to college and exciting and promising lives beyond that.

"I love our friendship bracelets," he told the girls as we were walking out of the shop.

"I love our friendship," one of them said.

Me, too.
             Photo: Gold Door Jewelry & Art by: Yogic Traveler - Courtesy: Gogobot

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Top 10 Ways to Avoid "Prama"

For those of you not living with a teen, you may not be familiar with the apt term, prama, or prom drama.

For those of you not living with a special-needs teen, you may not be familiar with the additional angst, while at the same time, the freedom, from all things prama-related.

For those of you not living in prama-land, let me tell you the quick and easy way to avoid it, and dare I say, have a great time at prom:

10. Have a really great human tell you and your special-needs teen a year in advance, that they will be attending prom together

 9. Hold them to it

 8. Pay for everything

 7. Get a favorite teacher to chaperone

 6. Get said favorite teacher to drive one of the school-owned mini-buses, and take a group of kids to prom

 5. And dinner

 4. At Spaghetti Factory

 3. Make sure said group is made up of kids that are unlikely to create, or take part in, prama

 2. Make the picture-taking session super-brief

 1. Just go and shake your booty and laugh with your friends, then come home, no after-prom nonsense




Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Lottery

Apparently, a lot of people have been asking Wil how he was going to fund his RV. He finally came up with the rock-solid plan that someone would give him a million dollars. When making a list of the millionaires we knew that were likely to give him a million dollars, we came up short, so he revised his plan: he would win the lottery.

For him to play the lottery, I had to, and I have never so much as bought a "scratch-it." Our friendly neighborhood 7-Eleven proved just the place, and as luck would have it, we got the nicest clerk in the world, who made it his mission in life to help us navigate the world of Quick Picks vs. selecting your own numbers, and choosing from a variety of lottery options. I had no idea.

$3.00 later we walked out of there with what he felt sure, were the winning numbers.

They were not.

We've since been back a couple more times to try our luck again. Because he's so weirdly good at predicting things, I half expect to win. Because I'm so weirdly one to project the smallest thing into an impending catastrophe, I've got myself into a total state of how my life will change for the worse, when we win the lottery. Because life is so weirdly full of no accidents, I also know if we are meant to win the lottery, we will, and if we aren't, we won't.

In the meantime, plans for life inside the RV continue to develop. He will shower at 10:00 PM and go to bed at 11:00. He will watch a lot of bad TV and pretty much do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. He already has a roommate lined up, and they are both super excited to live in the RV, where there are no rules and nothing but all their favorite things in and around it. Plus, Care will be right next door, to "get it," whatever "it" is.

The plan is sounding better and better to me, too.

RV= Real Victory

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Moving On

Her hair was a little more grey, her face had a few more lines, but the rest was the same as two years ago. Same glasses, same smile, same tiny little body. When our pediatric eye doctor of 13 years (17 years at that clinic) came in, it was like seeing an old friend. She knows Wil and laughs at his jokes. She knows what he can see, and how to get him to respond, even when he says with conviction, "I can't see a damn thing!"

We'd been through the rig-a-ma-roll a million times. When Wil first started there, he was non-verbal and had an eye that crossed (he still does). We had to go every three months, then every six months, eventually every year, and the last time we were there she said we didn't need to come back for two years.

We've had countless pairs of glasses. I've held him down and forced eye drops into his good eye, to make the weaker eye work harder, a billion brutal times. Three days before Wil's eye appointment he started getting very anxious, "There are going to be tears! A lot of tears! I am going to cry when they put the eye drops in my eyes!"

The whole thing is traumatic and PTSD-causing for all involved.

We'd had horrible traffic and then she was running behind, so the eye appointment was taking up our whole morning. We'd left our house at 8:15 and Wil "needed" to be back to school at 11:00, and it wasn't going to happen.

Anxiety increased. Irritation was high. General I-have-got-to-get-out-of-here was through the roof. For both of us. As I looked around the waiting room of young mothers, young children, toys, videos for preschoolers, I knew that neither of us could take it one more time. We'd originally planned to stay until he was 21, but I knew this would be it. This would be our last visit with our beloved friend and doctor. We were moving on.

Even when it's time. Even when it's your idea. Even when it's obvious and necessary and the only thing to do, moving on is hard to do.




Monday, May 11, 2015

Announcements

Spent all morning preparing Wil's high school graduation announcements. Had to clear the calendar. Had to clear the mind. Had to clear the distractions. Had to decide this was how I was going to spend my morning, and get psyched up for it.

Today at school, Wil and one of his assistants, will pick up his cap and gown, and the assistant will lovingly and loyally, make sure it gets in his backpack. I'll receive an email later asking if it made it home.

I had to cut off the list of people to send the announcement to, because I could send it to hundreds. His list of friends and family, neighbors and parishioners invested in his education, his path, his future, are innumerable, but number them I did.

While expressing how hard this season is for me, and how I'm dreading graduation day, one person suggested I treat it all as a celebration.

It is a celebration. There is much to celebrate. A whole book's worth, and in fact, that book has been written. But life is a paradox, and the impending graduation punctuates that fact all too well. While a celebration, it is also the closing of a long chapter. A chapter that has been, at many times, an uphill battle, but also one that has offered sanctuary for him, and respite for me.

To announce is to make a formal statement of fact or intention. The only way I'm going to get through the graduation is to focus less on the former, and more on the latter. What is my intention for this next period of life?

The intentions are not any different from any other time, when you think about it:

* To remain open
* To see the good
* To have a positive expectancy
* To believe in the kindness of others
* To remain loving
* To believe and move as though there are no accidents


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day to All Whom Mother


Wil sits beside a wonderful woman every Saturday night at 5:30 Mass. She is not, technically, a "mother." She is, however, a Mother. She nurtures and gives, hugs and holds, advises, stands behind, and doesn't flinch. She makes me laugh. If you can do all that, you're a mother, in my book.


 (Happy Mother's Day love Wilson I love all the things we do
together thank you you make me laugh love Wilson)


(From STM)

I raise my glass to all of you that mother. All of you that make others laugh. All of you that are inspiring and inspired. All of you that give and give and give some more. All of you that love mothering and all of you that don't. All of you that wish you had one more, and those that wish they had one less. All of you that have lost and grieved, been denied, and mourned. All of you that got more than you bargained for. And less. All of you that have been teachers and have been taught. All of you that got your asses handed to you and all that have been blessed. And both. All of you that wouldn't change a thing, and all of you that would change everything. But can't.

Happy Mother's Day to all whom mother.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Back Story



Rest assured, talk of the RV continues and the plans grow more elaborate by the day. For those of you that live in my neighborhood, don't you worry. The RV isn't going to be in the backyard anymore, it's going to be out in front so you can all really enjoy all it has to offer.

One faithful reader was curious as to the back story on the required pawn shop in the RV. I have been negligent in reporting Wil's long and strong fascination with the show, "Hardcore Pawn." He loves Les, Seth and Ashley, whom he calls, "Debbie Downer." Whenever I dare to tell him no, he calls me "Ashley." "Stop being like Ashley, stop being a Debbie Downer. Just say yes." I've been forced to watch a few episodes of the show, and that's plenty for me. However, Wil cannot get enough, and in his true spirit, has recruited several people to watch the new episodes on Monday, and report back on Tuesday. There is zero chance of them forgetting, as he reminds them via text over and over and over, and whatever they originally had planned for 7:00 PM on a Monday, has since been rescheduled.

"Care, how are we going to get things for our pawn shop in the RV? I've been thinking about it. I think we need to find a pawn shop that's going out-of-business, and buy all their stuff to sell in my RV."

The whole question of "back story" has gotten me thinking. Really, isn't everything we think, do, believe and act on, based on a back story? What we want? Don't want? Need? Don't need? Seek? Avoid? Work towards or run from? All are due to the back stories we have.

When one spends hours going through their crap, one's back story is quite evident. I used to value this. I used to fear not having this, "in case." I used to believe someone I know and love would want this because it was of value to me. I used to believe that what and who I am, is tied to the possessions in this box. I used to believe my back story was represented by concrete items, and not the intangible.

What is my back story?

How is it serving me now?

What is my future story?

How do I move towards that in a loving, healthy way?


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Top 10 Things the RV Will Include

10.  Table tennis

 9.   Bouncy house

 8.   Bowling alley

 7.    Four TVs

 6.    Guest room

 5.    Four bunk beds

 4.    Couch with built-in refrigerator

 3.    Swimming pool

 2.    Creek running by

 1.    Pawn shop

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On a Lighter Note

Top 10 Nice Things that Happened Today

10. Called SSI, and the person I was calling was in, and answered the phone!

 9.  Was told, "You are right, we were wrong. Go ahead and shred that." (So many things right about that.)

 8. Wil went to the dentist and has, miraculously, no cavities.

 7. I sat in the waiting room and read bad (by bad, I mean great) magazines.

 6. To celebrate, Wil and I went out for an early dinner - so early, we were still in time for the lunch special.

 5. At dinner Wil told me all about his plan to buy a three-story motor home, and move into it, in our backyard.

 4. He said, and I quote, "I'm thinking way outside the box here, Care." His RV will be multi-colored, multi-level, and will require his permission before entering. I'm to live in my own house, and leave him alone.

 3. The pass code to his new digs will be F-A-R-T.

 2. When we got home from "linner" (lunch/dinner), I found a lovely card and flowers from a secret admirer.

 1. Now I'm on my way over to Nancy's to watch more bad (and by bad, I mean great) TV and have a few (laughs).

The Inspection

Had a dream last night that my cousin, Emily, and I, each had received mysterious notes telling us to arrive the following morning at some designated location, and that there would be an "inspection."

Now, I am many things, almost first among them, is punctual. In the dream, I was dragging my feet, purposely stalling, intentionally not making it in time for the "inspection." I found Emily, she needed to use the bathroom before we could leave. I was happy for the extra time that took up. On and on the dream went, until we eventually got to the mysterious site - very late.

All kinds of people were there that we both knew (including her mother and two sisters). First thing said to me was the event went until 8:30 PM. 8:30 PM was news to me, and I wasn't having it. I proceeded to spend the next while doing more stalling, hovering around the perimeter of the gathering, watching from afar, all under the pretext of having to make arrangements to stay that late, as I hadn't arranged for anyone to be with Wil that long.

I never did join in.

I never even found out what the point of the gathering was, and what the attendees were actually doing.

I successfully avoided the inspection.

I'm certain that was not the point.


Monday, April 27, 2015

As Within, So Without

Not only have I been on a purging-the-house-and-garage kick for a couple months now, I've been simultaneously trying to figure out what I'm eating and/or drinking, that has been causing me horrible reflux for months, and purging that from my diet.

It's been a much more daunting task than cleaning the house from what I don't need. I appear to be somewhat of a mystery. What seemed to be your run-of-the-mill GERD has not responded to treatment. It's not responded to me eliminating most of the things I love: coffee, chocolate, alcohol, tomatoes (actually, tomato sauce), onions, citrus, garlic, cheese, nuts, avocado. It's not responded to aggressive antacid treatment. It's not responded to buying and sleeping on a ridiculous wedge to keep me nearly bolt upright at night.

It's not responded.

It's shaping up to be food allergies that are causing the problem.

And stress.

Removing the causes of both seem impossible.

Saw an interview with Christiane Northrup, MD last night, when I couldn't sleep. She said that what we believe, is more important than our genetics. She quoted all kinds of fascinating studies of people proved what we tell ourselves about ourselves, what we accept from what our culture tells us about ourselves, and what we focus on, can dramatically change our health.

"Health is contagious," she said. "Everyone talks about disease being contagious, but health is contagious." She said that if one person quits smoking, the ripples go as far as four degrees of separation.

Last Wednesday evening I was just minding my own business, when I suddenly got "that" feeling that I might throw up. I'll fast forward to the end of the story: 10 violent hours later, I finally got into bed to rest, and stayed there three days.

When what you're doing isn't working, it's time to do something different. For me, for now, it's about eliminating what isn't working: junk in my house that bogs me down, foods and drinks that burn my body, stress that can be avoided, or at least better managed.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Exhale slowly.

Repeat.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CTSD

Through a wild small world and no accidents kind of thing, I recently had a conversation with a woman that had read my book, and shared it with a bunch of people at work. I then learned that she is a mental health professional, specializing in PTSD.

I came home from the encounter and was telling STM about it, and mentioned I would consider going to her, as I'm sure I have PTSD. "PTSD? That implies the trauma is in the past, that it's over. I have CTSD!"

"Chronic?" I asked.

"Current," he said. "I want PTSD for my birthday!"

Then we, of course, belly laughed, because what else are you going to do?

Wil was listening, and nothing makes him belly laugh harder than hearing others belly laugh (or watching them get injured, but that's another post).

"Well, I have ETSD," he quickly added, "Elmo traumatic stress disorder!"

By the looks of Elmo, I would say he's the one with the trauma.




Monday, April 20, 2015

Grounded

"Keep your eyes on the stars, and 
your feet on the ground."
- Theodore Roosevelt


When we say someone is "grounded," we mean they are sensible, practical, balanced, down-to-earth, low-maintenance, realistic, without pretenses or illusions.

To feel grounded, to be grounding, to ground someone -  all good things.

Even when a child acts out and a parent grounds them, it can be a good thing. A time when distractions and privileges are removed, and one is forced to stay and be "home."

Most of us are in need of more grounding.

Recently, someone I greatly respect and admire, who happens to have English as his second language, said, "Wil puts me on the ground."

And while there are moments/hours/days that he puts me in the ground, for the most part, he is my biggest grounding influence.

It's very difficult to be high-maintenance, full of pretense and illusions when you've got someone forcing you to keep it real all the time. If you think, for one minute, that it's all about you, or even a little bit about you, then you're welcome to borrow any number of special needs "children" I know, to get you over that, fast.

Have a friend who recently had abdominal surgery. From the time she was told she needed the surgery, to the time she had it, was a short period - not enough, probably, for her special-needs son to get used to the idea. Shocker: her surgery and recovery were not about her. Her son had one heck of a time with "her" recovery, the changes and disruptions to the status quo.

If you believe that you co-create your life with whatever/whomever you call your higher power, that you signed up for these exact challenges and opportunities to evolve your soul and learn whatever it was you came here to learn, then you have to accept that getting over yourself is part of it.

It's not about "you."

I believe that's because there is no "you," there is only "us," and "you" are not separate from the collective Us, You are  Us.

We are one.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

An Echo in Innocent Souls


I have a meeting today to discuss one of my many hot buttons. The "button" is the way in which many people view those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, and the various slang, attitudes, even gestures and facial expressions used when casually throwing around words like "idiot," "stupid," "dumb," or the forbidden r-word.

It's pervasive and to a large degree, acceptable. I just heard someone say, "The man developed a horrible disease which left him unable to speak, and he was not able to share his brilliant mind with anyone. Nobody could see how wonderful he was."

One does not need to be "brilliant" to be "wonderful." 

Because there are no accidents, one of my favorite daily e-mails today spoke on this issue, 
Piro-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in the daily e-mail called Bowl of Saki:

"The great personalities who have descended on earth from time to time to awaken in man that love, which is his divine inheritance, have always found an echo in innocent souls rather than in great intellects. Man often confuses wisdom with cleverness, but a man can be clever and not wise, and by cleverness a person may strive and strive, and yet not reach God. It is a stream, the stream of love, which leads towards God."

We've worked so hard to bring awareness and equality to the marginalized, the oppressed, the minorities of this country. Let us not forget to include those with intellectual/developmental disabilities in our streams of love.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Things We Know Are True, But Still Don't Believe

There are no accidents.

Worrying doesn't solve anything.

Most of the things we worry about, never come to fruition.

It's the little things.

The qualities in others that bug us, are the qualities in ourselves we need to examine.

We are one.

What we resist, persists.

We can't change others, we can only change ourselves.

There is no scarcity.

Cooperation does not involve a fight for power.

Honesty is the best policy.

The first person to say, "I'm sorry," wins.

All we have is the present moment.

Love is all there is.








Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Purging and Pondering

Life, we know, is cyclical. Some cycles follow the moon, others, the seasons. I find myself very effected by the light/dark rotation, the days-of-the-week, the patterns, rhythms, and circles of nature, and of life.

It's been over seven years since I gave this house a good purging. I was 44 and in a definite period of Then-and-Now. I'm 52 and in an altogether different space and place in my body, in my thinking and in my soul.

I've got something going on now that has probably crossed over into OCD, but I don't care. There is an urgency, a deep need, a craving for "space." With my children about to be 21 and 19, there is more than ever, a clarity about what was in the past, what is in the present, and a making room for What is to Come.

I don't need my high school cap and gown.

I don't need my children's baby teeth.

I don't need the shoes I wore for my wedding.

I don't need every card or letter ever written to me - regardless of how sweet and lovely they may be.

I don't need the old crib and matching bedding, complete with bumper.

I don't need the photo albums containing all the pictures of students I taught over 20 years ago.


I don't need all the old Barbies and trucks, and any attachment to what my theoretical grandchildren will want to play with.

There is a lot of things I'm able to identify as being Not What I Need Now, as I clear and make way, empty and leave open the drawers and spaces made clean.

I recently heard that it's important to remember that acceptance is not the same as resignation. Resignation will take you down. Acceptance will lift you up. 

There is nothing more concrete than going through your earthly possessions and physically holding them in your hand, and being lifted up by the understanding that you aren't the same person that first beheld it.

As Easter was about to roll around again, Wil started talking about Devohn, the Easter Bunny. Some of you will remember that Wil has had a long infatuation with the Easter Bunny, and came up with the unlikely name of Devohn many years ago. 

Wil and I were asked to lead a small group of kids preparing for baptism at Easter. We enjoyed the experience very much, and were excited to stay up late on Holy Saturday, and welcome them into the waters at the Easter Vigil. We went to Bi-Mart and made up little gift bags to give "our" kids: a chocolate Cross, Easter candy, and a toy Devohn for each one. "I need to have a Devohn, too," Wil said. So, of course, instead of four Devohns, we bought five.

Wil came home and wrote this note, taping it to the mantle in the living room, just as he does his yearly Santa note (Go to my room top of stairs and say hi to me, Love, Wilson):


I sent a text to Devohn's helper, and reminded him that we were expecting him to reappear outside our house, as he had graciously done the year before. I prayed Devohn was still in existence, and easily accessible, as we'd not communicated about this beforehand. Devohn did not disappoint.


Now, each morning, Little Devohn wakes up, goes downstairs, and gets ready for his day while his "dad" is at school. Wil gently prepares a few snacks and some entertainment. "Now, you stay there, Devohn, and wait for me. I'll be back later. Be good."



And Devohn is good.

And that is where I "am." I am home with Devohn while he plays with his toy and eats his carrots. I am purging and pondering. I am coming face-to-face with the past, and being in the present. Every empty drawer and inch of extra space on a shelf a reminder that if we don't make room for things, they can't find their way in.




Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Backseat Driver

Last night I dreamed I was in a car with my friend, Kim. I knew that it was Kim's car, even though it didn't look like Kim's car. Thing is, we were both in the backseat, I in the middle, she on the right-hand side, by the window. I looked up and saw that indeed, no one was in the driver's seat. I turned to Kim and asked, "Are you driving?"

She said, "Yes, my mom bought me a special car, I can steer from this little panel on the door. She knew I would need a second way of steering when she saw the children I have."

"As great as that is, I'd feel so much better having you up there, in the driver's seat, making more precise and controlled driving decisions."

As can happen only in a dream, she was instantly transported, and safely behind the steering wheel, bringing me much relief.

Let's part-of-me this dream, shall we?

What part of me is in the backseat of my life, trying to steer from there?

What part of me has children that require a second/different/unusual, perhaps, way of "steering" them?

What part of me is more comfortable having someone else drive?

What part of me gives to my children a special "vehicle?"

What part of me is a backseat driver to others?


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Unknowing

Got another download from Mary last night: "You don't know."

I knew right away what it was I didn't know, I don't know what's best for other people.

What a relief.

It's exhausting playing the If-She/He/They-Would-Only ___________ game.

If you believe we all come "here" to learn a pre-determined set of lessons, and I do, then who am I to say how one goes about learning them? I'm probably interrupting the process with all my good ideas. Anne Lamott calls this the disease of Good Ideas for Other People.

The good news is, this disease does not have to be chronic, and one doesn't even need to see a doctor or alternative health care provider to cure it. One only needs to know that they don't know.

Witness, rather than suggest.

Love, rather than judge.

Let go, rather than control.

Easier said than done.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Awaken into Action



Not enough can be made about Terry Whitaker's latest endeavor. She has partnered with two like-minded people, Beth Banning and Laura Pedro, to create a 6-week virtual event like no other. Awaken into Action has some of the world's most inspiring thought leaders: Gary Zukav, Maya Angelou, Bob Thurman, Michael Beckwith, Barbara Marx Hubbard, the list goes on and on (and on).

Do yourself a favor, click over to Awaken into Action and take a look. The teachings are all available online at no cost, for up to 72 hours after they air. If, however, life does not allow for you to catch them during that time, there are two different options available for purchasing the event, to watch and/or listen to, at your convenience.

It's a new year.

It could be a new you.

Awaken, into ACTION!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Seeing


The older I get, the harder it is to sleep well through the night. One thing I've found that helps, is to wear a sleep mask. Mine came from WinnCo and set me back $1.67.  I love it and everything about it. I love the texture against my skin. I love that the light from the clock does not shine in my eyes. I love that it mutes the world and separates me from it. I love that when I put it on, it signals my body that I am done, it's time to rest, I'm off duty.

Last night, I woke up and realized it was not on my face. I couldn't find it anywhere. My hand reached around and it was in none of its usual hiding places. I finally turned on the light, and wouldn't you know it? It was in my other hand. I was holding it the whole time.

It was a ruby slipper moment. The power, the magic, what I was looking for, was with me the whole time.

I am loving my word-of-the-year, all five days of it: Observe. My friend, Val, asked me, "What is the difference between witnessing and observing?" I've been mulling that over ever since. Finally, I did what any normal person would do - I Googled it. Found this article. I've now changed my word to "Witness." Observe is to strengthen the ego. No, thank you, mine is plenty strong. "The scientist observes, the mystic witnesses."

It's not easy see what's right in front of us, what we're "holding." It's hard enough to observe it, a greater challenge to witness it. But worth the effort.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Word-of-the-Year

It's been quite the week. Wil had two wisdom teeth removed on Monday morning. Fortunately, he only had two wisdom teeth. Fortunately, they were both on the top. Fortunately, those are supposed to be easier to remove/recover from. He's done very well. Bleeding was at a minimal, swelling isn't great, but not terrible, pain is gone, and was easily controlled from the beginning.

It was quite a year. 2014 kicked our butts in ways that are not bloggable. Let me leave you with this advice: Never say to the Universe, "I can't handle one more thing," as you will be sure to get "one" more "thing." It is not up to us to decide what we can and cannot handle. You would have thought I would have learned that one a long time ago, but apparently, I needed a refresher course.

It has been quite a 23-year marriage. Yesterday, STM and I celebrated our anniversary. We left Wisdom Teeth Boy with my mom and drove up to the mountain to have lunch and marvel at nature. The day was perfect, the weather ideal, the nearness, yet distance, from home, just what we needed.

We sat by the window, looked at Mt. Hood, watched the skiers come down, and lifted our glasses. "To us," we said, clinking and sitting back into our chairs to relax, relish, and reflect.

I am occasionally visited by Mary in my dreams, I don't see her, but I hear her voice, loudly and clearly, and there is a deep knowing in me when this occurs. In the wee hours of New Year's Eve, I heard, "Observe." Just that. One little word, but I "knew" what she meant.

There is a tendency to react. To respond. To repeat patterns and behavior either because it's worked, or because it's habit, but mostly, because it relieves our own anxiety, to do so. Not, because it is helpful.

The word-of-the-year, for me, is observe. The word feels passive to me, almost like a cop-out. But, indeed, it is far harder and requires more self-awareness, than "action," which is generally reaction.

Here's to 2015, a year to put a beat in between what "happens" and what we "do" about what happens. A year to challenge our patterns, beliefs, habits, reactions and relationships.

A year to observe.






Monday, December 22, 2014

Succession of Moments


Every year I think to myself, that I'm going to come up with some super neat winter solstice "thing" to do, possibly involving a group of friends, possibly involving a day of silence, possibly a lot of things.

And then I do none of them.

This year is no exception. The day came and went and I did not mark the shortest day-of-the-year in any significant way. I did just what I do most Sundays, with one exception: I went for an early morning walk with Kathleen. I went to church. Wil, Nancy and I went for lunch at Burgerville. Nancy and I went for an afternoon walk. I took a nap. I made dinner.

Last night, however, my mom and I went to a Christmas concert at our church. It was lovely. The music, the greenery, the people gathered round, all of it. It was a perfect way to be surrounded by every kind of light, on the darkest day-of-the-year.

Perhaps one does not have to mark big days, in big ways. Perhaps, as my hero, Corita Kent says, "Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed."

As we move into a week of "big days," let us "succeed" in each moment. Living. Breathing. Being.

Amen.





Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

I am a part of a women's spirituality group. We meet once-a-month, as a group, for a Saturday retreat, and once-a-week, privately, with a spiritual director. It's a nine-month commitment, which began in September, and will conclude in June. I felt the timing was right for me, and these nine months were already going to be a time of deep discernment, and I might as well have some community and structure around that.

Last Saturday, we were studying a body of work, talking about how to enter the world with action. All good, right? I had no trouble with the transcendental precepts of Be attentive; Be reasonable; Be responsible; Be authentic. I struggled mightily, with Be intelligent.


What, then, does it mean to "enter" the world with "action?" I would argue that spiritual purity, does not come from a place of intellect.

Do those people that may never be launched, that need others to help them even be in the world, let alone "enter" it in any splashy way, not take "action?"


Must one ask, "How?" Must one ask, "Why?" Must one "understand" or march through a formal thought process of any kind, to be in union with "God?"


Richard Rohr (if you're not already receiving his daily e-mails, click the link and sign up immediately) says,  "I am convinced that the purest form of spirituality is the ability to accept the 'sacrament of the present moment' and to find God in what is right in front of me."


Some people are able to find God in an Orange Crush-flavored candy cane.  


There is "intelligence" to that that supersedes conventional intelligence, to which far too many people worship, if you ask me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yoga Money

I made the commitment to get back into yoga this fall. I'd give myself a solid C for effort. Some weeks I make it there twice, others once, and some (many), not at all. There are a number of reasons why I'm not able to attend, and many of them are very valid. In fact, many of the obstacles are beyond my control. And sometimes, when the day is packed, and yoga feels like "one more thing" squeezed in, I opt not to go, in favor of a more relaxed pace to the rest of the day. I choose to look at this as self-care.

I love my yoga class and all of the women in it. The instructor is idea (hi, Anne Marie!). Every time I'm there, I'm glad I am. I get all the benefits of a good yoga practice: greater strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation and community.

The cost of the class is nominal, and most of us pay in cash, each time. I've taken to keeping an envelope in a drawer, marked "Yoga Money." When I break a $20, I put some aside for yoga.

What's happened, is I have way more money in that envelope, than I have yoga sessions. I've decided that that money will now go towards anything that gives me the benefits of a good yoga practice: greater strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation and community.

Happy hour, anyone?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pray, Coffee, Repeat


My morning coffee and prayer time, is, by far, my favorite time of the day. I actually love that Flicka wakes me up at 5:00, ready to start her day, as that gets me into my sacred space long before I'm on duty.

I can't imagine one without the other - who doesn't savor every sip of their perfect coffee, while sitting in "prayer," however that looks? Meditation? Reading from sacred books? Journaling? Chanting? Holding a mala or rosary, and reciting prayers? On the very rare days that life does not allow for at least a little bit of this time, I feel off-centered, ungrounded, lop-sided.

A couple of days ago, I got a text from my friend, Laurie, saying she was throwing a very spontaneous happy hour at her house, and could Nancy and I come? She said another mutual friend of ours, Jen, would be there, and that Jen had a present for me. Nancy and I cleared our very busy social calendars, and walked up to Laurie's.

When Jen arrived, she had a darling gift bag with her, and she started to hand it to me. "It's not anti-fungal cream, is it?" I asked. I couldn't imagine what Jen would be giving me as a gift, and thought, perhaps, it would be an inside-blog-reader joke.

It was not anti-fungal cream, or a joke of any kind. It was the perfect gift: a mug, with the perfect words, Pray, Coffee, Repeat.

Perfect.

As this season heats up for so many of us, adding additional obligations, duties, and commitments to already-full lives of obligations, duties and commitments, may you find your "coffee," and your "prayer," whatever that may be, and however that may look, wherever you can find them.

Amen.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Slight Problem


Wil sends me a text from the living room, "We have a slight problem though I am going to go to bad at 9:15 tonight because I got a watch South Beach towing now to 915 so I will be ready for bed at 9:15 though you might have to stay up till 915 for me because these are the only nights next every Wednesday have to stay up till 915 so we suspect that please and I am going to go to bed at 9:15 tonight because I need to watch South Beach tow"

I text back, from my bedroom,  "OK, but when are you showering?"

"9:02," he responds.

This goes on for quite some time, culminating with his "need" to finish the last episode, which, apparently, is some sort of finale.

By the time all is said and done, he's not showered, with brushed teeth, etc., until 9:45. I am shot.

Nonetheless, we must still partake in the mini-Advent ceremony, 'round the ol' fake Christmas tree.

"Care, I'm going to read six sentences, and you're going to look at the candy cane we're blessing, when I do."

I dutifully follow him around the tree, as he stops, reads a line from his little book, and points to the candy cane getting the blessing.

"Right here. The blue one. 'Alleulia, alleulia. Behold, the Lord comes to save his people; blessed are those prepared to meet him. Alleluia, alleluia.'"

"Now, we're doing this one. The Orange Crush one."

We both move into position, and he continues, "Receive, O Lord, these offerings we bring you in commemoration of Stain Francis Xavier, and grant that, as he journeyed to distant lands out of longing for the salvation of souls, so we, too, bearing effective witness to the Gospel, may, with our brothers and sisters, eagerly hasten towards you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

At 10:00 I am finally released from my duty, and can go back to watching bad TV. It's hard to care too much about whom gets kicked off "Survivor" (for the 29th season), when you know that right down the hall, someone is blessing candy canes today, bearing effective witness to the Gospel, tomorrow.

There is no slight problem.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dear Lord,

Just read Elizabeth Aquino's blog, and decided to copy her.

You might want to, too. 'Tis the season to need extra reinforcement.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I await the oral and topical prescriptions, to clear the all-over-my-torso-and-now-my-arms, fungal infection.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I am forced to put on "real" clothes, instead of the near 24/7 yoga pants, sports bra, etc., that got me into this predicament.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I learn the peppermint tea I've been drinking in the name of good health, is the culprit to my heartburn.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I block some people from Facebook, because seeing their posts makes it difficult to remain patient and filled with lovingkindness.

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I am asked to say a special prayer for a very special candy cane, the Dr. Pepper one (see last post).

Let me remain patient and filled with lovingkindness, as I await the eggnog latte and chocolate-dipped Trader Joe's cookies to kick in.

Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dear Santa

I believe I shared in a post last year, about this time, that I'd finally convinced Wil we needed to e-mail Santa, as opposed to going through the ordeal of a one-on-one at the mall.

This year, he didn't even suggest the mall, and we agreed that we'd fire off our e-mail before church on Sunday. And by "before church," I mean 7:30, as he "needs" to leave for church at 7:45. He rides his bike up to church (total riding time: 5-6 minutes), parks it, then stands outside in all kinds of weather, and greets the people before the 8:30 Mass. He then attends "8:30," hops across the street for coffee and donuts, only to return by 10:00 to greet prior to the "10:30."

In July, he added the 5:30 Saturday night Mass to the line-up.

But, I digress. Wil's three-times-a-weekend Mass attendance, is a post all on its own.

We found a great on-line site and Wil made me the secretary, taking dictation. He asked for three things:

1) $100 iTunes gift card to buy apps (I talked him down from a million dollars)
2) An air freshener that you plug-in
3) Pineapple juice

Here is what he wanted me to add at the end:

"I've been very good, very sociable, and very, very, very athletic. Super athletic. I've been a great sport. I've been a great, great, great boy."

Then, after church, we went to Bi-Mart to buy, "Lots of candy canes. Tons."




We came home and prepared for the solemn hanging of the candy canes, on the newly erected "fake" tree in his room. He got out the Advent prayer book he'd received at church, and read a passage. STM and Woohoo gathered round, Flicka Link, too. He would read a sentence, then pause. "Please hang a candy cane," he'd instruct me. This went on for several minutes, until at last, the tree was perfect.

He then grabbed his iPad and took the following picture, quickly sending it to the three of us, plus my mom, so we'd have the image forever.

I'm not quite sure what's going on with the large, white shape on the left. It could be the sun shining in through the window, but I don't think so. I think it's the Holy Spirit, filling the room of a very special boy, with a special tree, special candy canes, and special instructions to Santa.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Memorable

NOTE: I started this post in September. Then, life got in the way, and I never finished it. I'm finishing it today, because I'm tired of life getting in the way of me finishing what I want to finish. And by "finished," I don't mean finished. Nothing is ever finished, is it?



* * * * * * * * * * *



"Well, hello, Wilson!" said the Nike Youth Games/Special Olympics volunteer at check-in. I looked at Wil to see if he was wearing a name tag I hadn't remembered him wearing. I replayed the last minute in my head: Had he said his name? No, he hadn't said anything, he'd simply walked up to the table.

"I remember you from last year," the adorable, young, volunteer said.

She remembered him from LAST year? There are hundreds and hundreds of kids here, how could she remember HIM?

But she had.

Wil participated in his second Nike Youth Games event held in conjunction with Special Olympics. He played soccer on a Project UNIFY team and was matched with (not against) three other teams from the area. If you want to know all that's right with the world, look no further than a Project UNIFY team. A unified team has both players with and without intellectual disabilities. Those with intellectual disabilities are "athletes" and those without are "partners." There are strict rules about how many athletes must be on the field/court/etc. at a time, and how many partners. Athletes get to make the goals, the baskets, the points, what-have-you. Partners are there to support the athletes in every way. It's a wonder to behold. If you're not tearing up after a Project UNIFY game, you have a stone for a heart.

I recently watched (the best show on TV) "Super Soul Sunday" with Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics. Amazing man. Amazing family legacies. Amazing inspiration: his aunt, Rosemary Kennedy. Rosemary Kennedy had a traumatic birth, which left her with an intellectual disability. It was not easy to "see," and the family kept it hidden (in shame). Rosemary functioned approximately at the age of an 8-12 year-old. At 23, her father agreed, without his wife's knowledge or consent, to a prefrontal lobotomy for Rosemary. It left her incapacitated. She lived until 86.

It's easy to go down the Her-Life-Was-Tragic road, and believe me, I've gone down it. I've also gone down the How-Could-You-Stay-Married-To-A-Man-That-Does-Not-Consult-You-Before-Such-A-Thing? road. It's not a pretty road. Or, very helpful.

Eunice Shriver took the family secret and she put it front of the country, in a time where the intellectually disabled were the most stigmatized population in the country (one could argue that they still are). The first Special Olympics were held in July 1968, in Chicago, Illinois.

There are over 4 million Special Olympic athletes in the world now.

Over 4 million people are now getting opportunities, and respect, that is long over-due.

Rosemary Kennedy, you are remembered.








Saturday, November 29, 2014

Small Victories

Been awhile since I posted. Thank you to those that have noticed, and a special thank you to those that have checked in on me, to make sure everything is okay. I am okay.

I just finished reading Anne Lamott's newest book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. I am a big Anne Lamott lover for many reasons. I love that she's a hot mess most of the time, yet writes about the biggies: grace, forgiveness, love. I dare say, I've learned more from her in her screwed-up way, than from many that pretend to have it all figured out.

Anne is 60 now, and says she knows less than ever. That resonated with me. I, too, know less than ever about almost everything.

Last night I dreamed I had a swollen left palm. I pierced it somehow, and out came fluid. In the fluid were two tiny fish - larger than microscopic, but not by much. The fish left my palm, left the small amount of fluid in which they'd lived, and left for the great beyond.

My dream then switched to me sitting at a computer, and two large cats were surrounding me, one was actually wedging herself between my chair and my back, pushing me into the computer and making it almost impossible to type. I knew that the tiny little fish that had left my palm, had turned into big, strong, determined cats.

Life is like that, isn't it? Parts of us that start off small, almost microscopic, leave us and go on to turn into other things, sometimes almost unrecognizably so. It is not up to us what happens with the stories, the events, the people, the "fish" that were part of us at one time. We have to pierce open ourselves and let them go, let them become what they will. Or won't.

That is one of the few things I still know.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Eggnog Lattes

Did you hear all the fuss about Starbucks dropping eggnog lattes from their seasonal menu? I am an eggnog latte lover, and look forward each year to the red cups, the November 1st launch, and the occasional trip into Starbucks just for that very drink.

I went in yesterday and discussed all the hoopla with the barista. She was quick to say it was never going to affect the Pacific Northwest, but what about all those other poor souls out there, without their eggnog lattes?

"It's just eggnog, people!" she said with disdain.

"Yes and no," I responded. Of course, it's "just" eggnog. But life can be stressful and challenging, and sometimes it's the "eggnog lattes" in our life that get us from Point A to Point B all in one piece.

Could I live without eggnog? Starbucks? Red cups? Absolutely. It is, after all, only eggnog.

But by the same token, there are plenty of days when adding that stop in is the best part of my day. A little love from Carrie to Carrie. A splurge, if you will. A few minutes, and dollars, as in investment in my over-all well-being.

Priceless.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Making Flowers Bloom


Gratitude is a flower
that blooms in noble souls.

Pope Francis


We all know that you can't think your way out of a rut, you have to "do" your way out. 

We all know that like attracts like, and when you're in a dark place, you're drawn to others in a dark place.

We all know that it's easy to over-generalize and globalize; that when several things are not going well in our lives, we can easily feel that nothing is going well.

We all know that the lies we tell ourselves are big and powerful and hard to break through.

One thing I just learned was that 60% of what we do is habit. The key to life, therefore, is developing good ones.

Digging for, discovering and delighting in all that is positive in our lives, is worth making into a habit.

I've been having my own go-round with life-sucks-thinking. I decided to finally write some much over-due thank-you notes. After writing three, I decided to keep going. I used up my Trader Joe's $. 99 cards, then dug out my special occasion stationary. What am I saving it for? It's to be used, and what better way to use it, than to say thank you.

It helped. It opened up the channel of gratitude that I'd silenced with despair. It didn't make the things that are hard and despair-making go away, but it brought a perspective that was missing.

We're all noble souls. We're all fighting a hard battle. We're all just doing the best we can with what we know.

Thank you.