Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!



And happy anniversary to me! Nineteen years today, and I can honestly say, we're happier than we've ever been, not in small part because we've learned a few things about patience, kindness, and forgiveness along the way. Plus, our minds are shot and it's easier to move on when you can't remember anything for more than five minutes.

Happy New Year to you, my friends!

love.

love.

and more love.


* Photo from psdgraphics.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holding On 'til Then

Rojo and I just wrapped up another full day of Mario Kart. He talks the entire time he's playing, narrating what's going on in his half of the screen and bossing around what I'm supposed to be doing in mine. Plus, the game itself is noisy and he turns the volume way up. I'm ready for a sensory deprivation tank. I must look like it, too, because out of nowhere he says, "Mom, don't forget we're going to die at the same time. Think you can make it that long?"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easily Disrupted



Courtney wants me to update my blog. Hmmm... guess she doesn't count music videos and pictures of Christmas cards true "posts." Hoping no one would notice. See, here's the thing. I love to write. I can't not write. I write in my head all day every day and it's enough to make me, and everyone around me, crazy. Nonetheless (best word ever - feel free to steal it), it's nearly impossible for me to write when kids and the husband are home, and they are home, have been home, and will continue to be home for several more days.

Still. STM is watching his 1,000th (I swear) episode of "Prison Break" on his laptop, Rojo is watching a Scooby Doo movie, and Woohoo is at a friend's. Even Flicka Link (x3) is contented and for the next 60 minutes it is unlikely I will be disrupted. By them, anyway. The laundry threatens to disrupt me, as does the dog hair that is flying around like nobody's business, as it's been six days since I vacuumed last and that's about five days too many when you have a profuse shedder, however cute she may be. E-mail threatens to disrupt me. The leftover Christmas candy/cookies/treats threaten to disrupt me. Even Ingrid Michaelson playing in my headphones threatens to disrupt me as there is a good chance I may need to go to iTunes and make "Everybody" repeat a few times, then I'll get tired of it and need to go in and put it back on that play the next song thing.

See the problem? See why I need SABBATH? Sorry. A word like Sabbath should probably not be yelled! Oops! So many things zinging through my brain all at the same time, and with no priority listing. The drivel is just as loud and clamoring as the biggies. Does anyone else have this problem, or just me?

Plus, I have all the Christmas stories to catch you up on and don't even know where to begin there. I guess I'll start with telling you how this year Rojo asked each person for something different for Christmas. He didn't even tell us what he had asked for (or even that he had). My mom just said one day, "Did you know Rojo wants 'Christmas' socks for Christmas? Do you have any idea what he means by 'Christmas' socks?" With a little digging I learned he wanted slipper socks like she wears. Yes, women's socks. Yes, she bought them. Yes, he's wearing them right this minute, actually.

He told Woohoo he wanted pajamas with Santa on them and she and I searched the city looking for them until going to Old Navy, seeing their one and only pair on the mannequin, and thereby beseeching the poor sales girl to strip the mannequin on the spot and selling us the pair, which, again, were women's and again, yes, he is all too happy to wear. They really couldn't be cuter. Santa has a jaunty magenta hat on each of his repeating pattern heads and there's a lovely shade of green going on there, too.

He told STM that he wanted a BIG tiger from Santa, but he told me he wanted a SMALL tiger from Santa. Darned if that Santa didn't find matching big and small tigers. Rojo was thrilled but not surprised. Why should he be? It's what he asked for! Why am I always so surprised when I get what I ask for? Why is he never?

Rojo told my in-laws he wanted those chocolates wrapped in gold like coins. Got 'em. Told my sister-in-law he wanted a Boston Terrier T-shirt. Got it. He didn't really get a whole lot else from the family, but he did get a BCS T-shirt with the Fightin' Oregon Duck on it from Kathleen, and he's proceeded to wear it three of the six days since he opened it. You know that Oregon is in THE championship, right? You know they're playing Auburn, right? You know that Rojo loves Auburn, right? You know that I've HIDDEN his Auburn T-shirt from him so he doesn't start a riot in the streets around here, right? You know I'm not kidding, right? Did you also know that Rojo has determined we need a BCS party and has created a guest list and fortunately his favorite people are my favorite people, and they are coming? No, you didn't know any of this because I've been too busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off and not stopping to have a big part of my Sabbath, which is WRITING.

Anyhoo. Sorry, Courtney, that's just a smidgen of the madness running through my head at any given moment.

Sabbath



Traditionally, the Sabbath is a day of rest and reverence. A holy day. A day to quiet oneself. We don't Sabbath well, as a culture. We go. And go. And go. We're much better at doing than at being, and I am no exception.

A friend of mine and her husband once took a whole year and called it the year of Sabbath. They withdrew from their book clubs, church groups, regular social engagements, committees that they sat on, etc. And there were a lot, because they are wonderful and involved people and other wonderful and involved people love having them come and be wonderful and involved, but it had come to a point when they couldn't simply cut back, they needed to make a declaration. Take a stand for holiness. And quiet. And Rest. I didn't know them at the time, but I love hearing this story and come back to it over and over in my mind.

My New Year's goal is to put more Sabbath into each day. More reverence. More holiness. More rest. More stillness. More quiet. More listening. More being.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have a Sane Christmas


Look at the Christmas card Kario sent me. I laugh every time I look at it, and can pretty much think of at least one person that fits each of the descriptions!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ascension Attitudes

I have heard that the three Ascension Attitudes are love, praise and gratitude. In my Angel Blessings book, it says the big three are love, gratitude and surrender. I love that because to me praise and gratitude are a bit redundant (and if I've said it once I've said it a million times, don't be redundant). However, surrender is MUCH harder than praise, don't you think? Surrender? C'mon, that's HARD!

I think we all think - at least I know I do - that if we surrender, our lives will get worse, not better. We believe that our fear of bad things happening is what's keeping them from happening, and that we have some mind control over bad things happening, and to surrender that mind control will open up the flood gets and let all kinds of hellish things in. Don't we think that?

I know that growing up I was repeatedly told to surrender my life to Jesus. No way was I doing that. I knew the minute I let him take over he'd "make" me a nun, and I wanted no part of being a nun. Never mind that we weren't Catholic (anti-Catholic, in fact), never mind that I had wonderful nuns as teachers in high school and they seemed happy in every way imaginable, never mind that now I fantasize  about life in a nunnery. Never mind. No way was I letting go and surrendering to God's will.

Every morning I draw an angel card and then meditate on it for as long as my monkey mind allows me to before I cart it back again. Naturally, in the time since reading about the three Ascension Attitudes I've drawn the Surrender card at least 50% of the time. "Quiet" Mary.

Today I drew the thing again. I always go to the book and read the corresponding information, and since I've read that flippin' page a million times lately, I practically know it by heart. However, today I read words I hadn't digested before: "Deep surrender opens the connection with your Eternal Self which is your personalized manifestation of an important aspect of God."

By surrendering, we are able to manifest in us, aspects of GOD.

Not enough can really be made of that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In My Dreams


(Get ready to see a lot of Quiet Mary - just sayin')

First had a dream that I walked into the hairdressers and my gal was talking to some older woman. The older woman said, "Let's just get this over with as soon as possible." Then the older woman began to drink like a fish. Somehow my awareness kicked in and I realized this older woman was my hairdresser's mother, and together they were going to do my hair! I called a meeting, sat them both down at a table in the back room, and announced that this simply was not going to work for me. I did not want anyone DRUNK doing my hair, for starters, and did not care for  the let's-just-get-this-over-with attitude one tiny bit. So. I'm learning to be assertive, if only in my dreams. It's a good start, right?

Next dream I was trying to find some privacy to get dressed, but there were people everywhere. Finally found a spot in the woods (!) and someone found me there, too! I told them that I thought I had some ANIMALS I needed to give birth to, and would they be a sport and UNZIP the back of my body (!) and pull them out, please? Only if it was not too much of a bother. They obliged, and out came some damn thing that I can't even remember. A bird? A dog? Not sure. Then I said, "I actually think there is more in there, would you please check, as long as you are there anyway?" They pulled out TWO more animals of some sort and then zipped me back up and away I went.

I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO GIVE BIRTH, people! OMHOG!

Then later, when I'd finished my very important and totally unmemorable business, I went by to check on the animals I'd just sort of given birth to. They were all nestled in some sort of outdoor cozy shelter with their animal-appropriate mothers, sleeping, eating, resting and in all ways doing great.

So, all's well that ends well, but still. Let's review the facts: I had only a vague sense that I was pregnant and even then, only as an afterthought I took care of the whole birth thing. Then, after a completely detached experience of getting them out of my body, I wanted nothing to do with the actual raising of my offspring. Too busy.

I know this dream is not about my parenting. I am going to go ahead and give myself an A on that front. What this dream is about is my DREAMS. A total afterthought. Detached. No time for. I check in on them from time to time and guess what? They are still there! Somehow living despite the complete negligence I have for them.

Quiet Mary, my ass.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Level Up



 Meet my friend, Greg. He's actually much larger than this in real life - and his personality is even bigger.

Greg can do pretty much anything. Including making really great short movies. You have to see his latest, Level Up. Not only is it DELIGHTFUL, it stars his son, Leo, and their daughter, Sophie, is in it, as well. Greg just happens to be married to my friend, Toeless, and we all know you know about my friend Toeless! Not enough can be made of this movie. Have a watch! Send your friends! Laugh! Smile! Enjoy! And THANK THE GOOD LORD YOU ARE NOT STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL!



Here's a trailer to get you wound up!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quiet Mary


On Sunday, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of my Mary-loving friends had a gathering for all of her Mary-loving friends. We ate chocolate, drank Prosecco with pomegranates dropped in (yummy, pretty and in keeping with the theme), and made Mary art. One of us (so not me) is a theologian/art teacher. Is there a better combination? Really? 

She led us through the art project and even let us all veer from it totally and do our own thing, like all good art teachers/theologians should do, if you ask me. This is a picture of what I ended up with. In Mary's hair is written the Hail Mary over and over again. We were supposed to chop up Mary's face into sections and in each section do a repeated pattern of something that represented Mary: bumblebees, roses, fleur-dis-lis, pomegranates, etc. I was all set to do that, had penciled out my sections and was ready to go to town when I stopped and announced that I didn't want to do that. Not like me at all to buck "authority."

The friend/teacher said, "You don't have to. I can imagine for you that it would be hard to hear Mary through all that noise."

Visual noise. Yes, that was it, exactly. Although I had looked at the prototype and admired it greatly, I didn't want to have it in my home, much less create it. 

Thank you, Quiet Mary. I can hear you now.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Simple



Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Leonardo da Vinci


Got to have lunch with one of my oldest and dearest friends on Saturday - just 90 minutes together as we don't live in the same city, and that was as long as we had to meet halfway and attempt to catch up, before returning to our busy/over-committed lives.

There are low-maintenance friends and then there are zero maintenance friends, like this one. We could (and do) go months without e-mails/calls/visits and then one of us contacts the other and we pick up right where we left off. Have been doing that for 33 years, fully expect another 33+ years of the same thing.

She is, and I mean this as the ultimate compliment, just the same since the day I met her, which is to say: simple. She has no ego whatsoever. Is never confused. Never in crisis. Never "going through a hard time." Never at a crossroads. Nothing. That is not to say that her life is not complicated, but she? She, is simple.

She will retire in ten more years from teaching first grade to very low income students. She takes kids from families with very little support or means, and teaches them to read. Teaches them to believe in themselves. Teaches them to fly. Year after year after year after year. I asked her what she'll do when her kids are both gone and out of college (eight more years until then), and then when she retires. "We'll simplify our lives," she said.

It was always their priority that there be a full-time, at home parent, and she was the one trained for a career with the passion and talent, so her husband has only worked very part time and at very low paying jobs, and only when their girls are in school. They have made it work. Not only have they made it work, they have one daughter ready to head off to college in the fall, and another one not too far behind. Their girls are impressive in every way imaginable. 

And in large part, because they've kept it simple.


* Photo from http://citysimplicity.blogspot.com




Friday, December 10, 2010

Black, White, and Grey



A friend came up to me yesterday at a school gathering and asked if we could go for a walk, have coffee, something, and talk about some of the themes of my blog: motherhood, being over 40 (and damn near 50), mid-life, marriage, etc. Never had anyone tell me what they consider to be the themes of my blog before, and it was enlightening.

I've had people call my blog an autism blog, which in some ways it is, and in some ways it isn't, which all makes perfect sense to me at this stage of life. As I'm aggressively greying (and coloring) physically, I'm aggressively greying in all my thoughts and beliefs, too. Everything is a shade of grey with little or nothing being pure black or pure white.

When I started this blog almost five years ago, that was my first post, Shades of Grey. And although it's really true that the more I know the less I know. I know more, too. I know that love is all there is.

There are times I don't have a blog post to write because all I'm thinking is stuff I've already shared and shared and shared. Feels at times there isn't a single stone left to turn. Life with Rojo is repetitive and cyclical, too. Every year at Christmas time he sings, "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Jolly," and you already know that. Every year at Easter he asks the Easter Bunny, Devohn, to come to our house and hide eggs, and you already know that. Every year on his birthday we force him to reach some new milestone, and you already know that. You also know that I've been working and worrying and trusting and praying, begging and pleading and in all ways obsessed with where he will go to high school next year.

As I've been working on my "new" manuscript these last few months, I've pulled in lots of blog posts and even parts of my first manuscript. A friend and fellow writer told me that's what I would do, "You'll cannibalize what you've already written. Stuff that you didn't know what to do with before, or that didn't work then, will find it's way into your new work. There is no new. There is only old with a different perspective - time."

While reading through a bunch of stuff I've written the last several years, both here and "off line," I see just how much I've changed. Just how much Rojo has changed. Just how much my marriage has changed.

And it's really true what they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

* Photo from www.davefleet.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Full of Grace



Big week for me, today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which, to my way of thinking, basically means Mary is full of grace.

Sunday is Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Call her what you want: Mary, Tara, Spirit, Shiva, Kuan Yin, Mother, Goddess, the Feminine Divine.

Just call on her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Earnings



Just got my Social Security statement telling me what my estimated benefits are. I know it's gauche to discuss money, but allow me this: Since 1980 (I was a junior in high school) to the present, I have earned a whopping $242,118. Total. 30 years. Averages out to be 8,070.60/year.

Jealous?

Lots of school and lots of hard work and lots of different jobs I've tried my hand at, and that is what I have to show for it. In terms of money.

To those of you that have balanced work, family, kids, social lives, I bow to you. To those of you raising special needs kids AND working, and being a contributing member to your communities, I double bow to you. And to those of you that are single and raising special needs kids and working, and contributing to your community, and raising typical children, too, and caring for homes and yards and cars and extended families. I triple bow to you one thousand times over.

At first when I saw my statement with so many zeros after the years, I was a little depressed. Then I pulled my head out of my #^% and realized those were the years in which I most richly blessed.



* Photo from www.financecents.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sugar and Spice



Check it out, my friend Leslie's new blog. Basically, she is the antithesis of me. She can cook. She can decorate. She can entertain. She can garden. AND SHE ENJOYS THESE THINGS!

Here she is, click here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

And


Shocking, I know, but I have somewhat of a Mary shrine going on in my closet-turned-prayer room. Each morning while STM is slaving away making umpteen pieces of bacon for a very hyper fourteen-year-old, I am "busy" praying in my closet with the perfect cup of coffee. It's a rough life.

Today Rojo burst through the door to the closet, with Flicka, blew out all the candles, sang three rounds of "Deck the halls with boughs of jolly," literally jumped up and down for five minutes, then stole a glance at the Mary statue I have on my altar and asked, "Is that the virgin and Mary?"

The virgin AND Mary.

I quickly said yes just to get him on his way, but then as I resumed heaven within the sanctuary of the closet, and he resumed being STM's early morning problem, I reflected on that.

We are all so many things, it's hard to classify us, isn't it? And so often what we are is conflicting. Just this week someone said to me, "Being a liberal like you are..." and someone else said, "She's a conservative, like you." Two people that know me well, with very different views of my views. I have very different views of my views, too. Lots of "ands." I am this AND I am that.

Holding all the various parts of ourselves, giving each a turn without letting any one aspect take over, is a challenge.

AND, we can do it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Paradoxical Commandments, by Dr. Kent M. Keith




People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.


Love them anyway.


If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.


Do good anyway.


If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.


Succeed anyway.


The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.


Do good anyway.


Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.


Be honest and frank anyway.


The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.


Think big anyway.


People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.


Fight for a few underdogs anyway.


What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.


Build anyway.


People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.


Help people anyway.


Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.


Give the world the best you have anyway.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Party On



STM and I were in the living room putting together our new IKEA love seat. You gotta love a store that sells love seats in a box and whose instructions have zero words. We spent much of the long weekend re-arranging and building furniture, and getting decorated for Christmas. Our dining room is now a cute family room off the kitchen. We had it this way years ago and then got conventional and made it back into a dining room. Thing is, we don't dine.

Now the room you walk into when you enter the house is the dining room. Weird, you say? Yes. We are weird. For years I've fought the floor plan of this house and the non-conformity of my husband. Now, slowly, I'm learning to surrender. I'm lucky to have a house with so much flexibility, I tell myself. And it's true. It's the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie syndrome, as my friend, Susan would say. You know the children's book where the mouse asks for a cookie, then needs a glass of milk, and, and, and and pretty soon nothing is as it once was just because the mouse wanted a little cookie. Same thing. Moved the denim furniture into the new "family room," moved the dining room table into the old entry space, needed something for the spot in the living room from whence we stole the denim stuff. You get it.

Anyway.

Woohoo was out with friends and STM and I were spending a thrilling Saturday night putting together our new IKEA stuff and watching the Beavers get beat by Stanford. Rojo was pulling up college fight songs on YouTube and making really loud, annoying and repetitive guttural sounds in time with the bands, something he'd pretty much been doing for four days straight, but who's counting?

Phone rang. STM's mom. Her elderly and in very poor health sister had just passed away. We knew at Thanksgiving that she had gone into a Hospice and it was only a matter of days. Still. A huge loss for my MIL, as they were very close. They spoke every single Saturday morning on the phone, even though over 2,000 miles had separated them for years. Just that morning, in fact, my MIL had called and one of her niece's had put the phone up to her failing mother's ears and let my MIL talk to her. Makes me cry just thinking about it.

STM got off the phone and told Rojo and me, "Well, she died."

"I don't feel sorry for her," I said, "she's got to be in such a much better place, but I feel sorry for your mom and all the other people that loved her."

"Are you going to die?" Rojo asked me.

"Someday," I said, "when I'm very old."

"What about me, am I going to die?" he asked.

"Yes, when you are very old."

"But don't die without me, okay?" he said. "Let's die at the same time."

I instantly thought of a disturbing conversation I'd had with a woman that is the mother to a grown son with extreme disabilities. When she grows too old to take care of him, she plans to put them both in her cry and drive into the river. She can't bear the thought of him alone in the world without her.

I get it.

"So, do you promise you won't die without me?" Rojo persisted.

Obviously not being something I could promise, I tried diversion. "What about Daddy?"

"Daddy, too," he said, "and Flicka. We'll all die together. It'll be a PARTY!" he said, hands clapping, one leg kicking out in celebration, a huge smile across his dimpled cheeks.

* Photo from www.rosesuk.com

Sunday, November 28, 2010



May all beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness;
May all be free from sorrow, and the causes of sorrow;
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness 
which is sorrowless;
And may all live in equanimity, without too 
much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.
- Buddhist prayer

Monday, November 22, 2010

Grateful



Been thinking a lot about gratefulness as I prepare for the Thanksgiving weekend. So much to be grateful for: health, family, home, the tremendous blessing in being able to be an at home parent - all things I take for granted way too much, and even at times gripe about.

The one tremendous blessing I have, however, and do not take for granted or forget about for one single minute, is the gift of my friends. I've gotta say, I have the best friends in the whole world. I have friends that walk beside me every day, both literally and figuratively. I have friends that go to Costco and buy Rojo's favorite snacks and my favorite beer (Mirror Pond) to have on hand for when we invite ourselves over for Beer O'Clock pretty much every day. I have friends that have volunteered to work with Rojo in his class, and continue to do so year after year after year after year. I have friends that call and remind me who I am, what's important to me, where I'm headed and show me how to get there. I have friends who place the perfect dog into my life at the perfect time. I have friends that have my back, my front, my sides, and all around me. I have friends that send e-mails that make me laugh. I have friends that used to be Rojo's teachers, and are now part of the family. I have old friends, new friends, forever friends and friends that I've lost touch with, but think of fondly. I have blog friends, special need mom (and dad!) friends, and people I don't know all that well but consider firmly in my corner.

In the last two weeks the outpouring of support for Rojo and for me has been completely overwhelming, in the best possible sense of the word. Nothing is wrong with Rojo, he's his usual happy/hyper self. There has just been a lot of stress around what comes next for him in terms of school, and that's where the army of support has stepped in.

Read a quote the other day that said, "You'd give anything to have what you have." Sorry, can't remember who said it, but wish I'd thought of it.

It's true.

I'd give anything to have what I have, and for what I have, I am deeply grateful.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010



Fear Not,
What is not real, never was and never will be.
What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed.

- Bhagavad Gita






* Photo from http://oldbuddysam.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Darkness


Ever since we moved the clocks back, I am so aware of how many waking hours of the day are dark. It's dark when I get up. It's dark before dinner. It's dark even when it's light some days, lights are necessary during the day, headlights on the car, candles, anything to bring light to the darkness.

We are going through a time around here where there are more questions than answers, where there is a nothing-more-we-can-do feeling conflicting with a strong there-must-be-more-that-we-can-do sense. In essence, we are in a period of waiting and darkness. The path is not illuminated, yet we know it is there.

This morning I was in my converted closet/prayer room and Flicka pushed through the door and joined me.  Rojo was right behind her. It was early in the morning and I had several candles going in there. Rojo, super hyper and wound up, quickly blew out all the candles, jumped around, made a mess, then left, leaving Flicka behind. Flicka curled up in a ball close to me, but I couldn't see her at all in the pitch dark. Not even her eyes shone. Still, I knew she was there, I could sense her, even though no part of her was actually touching any part of me. There was simply a there-ness to her.

Before STM and Woohoo left for school and work, we sat down for our family prayer time. Again we were in the dark except for candles, and a little growing daylight coming through the windows. Rojo pulled his angel card-of-the-day and for the third day in a row, he pulled Expectancy.

As I struggle to believe in what I cannot see but can only feel, he does not struggle whatsoever. He has a positive expectancy. He does not need to rely on faith because there is no question in his mind that things will work out any way but good. Scratch that, he believes they will work exactly the way they are intended to, according to some divine plan that is none of his business and not his problem.

In the dark he is not in darkness. He's expectant.

Lord,
Open our eyes to see beauty,
Open our ears to hear truth,
Open our minds to seek wisdom,
Open our mouths to speak kindness,
And open our hearts to love.

Amen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Intellectualism


You can't turn on the TV,  read the paper, or eavesdrop on a conversation for more than five minutes, without hearing the word "moron," "idiot," "stupid," "dumb," or the big offender, the R-word. Our culture allows this, one might even say, encourages it.

If you are a racist, sexist or ageist we call you on it, but disparage those with "less than normal intelligence?" Bring it! Laugh it up! Make yourself feel better while being in good company!

Did any of you happen to see "Parenthood" last Tuesday night (or any night you and your DVR called it up)? Adam, the father with a son with Asperger's, punched a guy in the nose at the grocery store, for calling his son a, oh, I can't even say it, the R-word. And the man so totally deserved it. I so appreciate what this show is trying to do to raise awareness of special needs. Although my son is "on the spectrum" and the kid on the show is "on the spectrum," too, that is pretty much all they have in common. Yet I so relate to the story line, and their family could by ours in so many ways, complete with the 16-year-old junior in high school daughter, that gets the short end of the stick every single day, pretty much. They've got the mom that is fully consumed with meeting the needs of her son, and the dad just out there trying to make a living while constantly being pulled away by yes, the all-consuming needs of the special child.

I was recently reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress per several people's recommendation. I was liking it, even smiling on occasion, until she repeatedly used the R-word disparagingly. For. A. Laugh.

It's not funny.

Sticks and stones may break bones but it's the words that we use with each other that wound the deepest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

May we live our lives beyond separation, knowing that nations and cultures are made up of individuals. May I be as one who rethinks my life, my actions, and aligns to the glory we are all capable of. May I follow where I am spiritually guided, and embrace what is new that is of love. May love flow through me and lend my individual life and light toward a better world.
- Jacqueline T. Snyder

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is - it must be something you cannot possibly do.
Henry Moore, 1898-1986
English Artist and Sculptor

Monday, November 8, 2010

Be Calm and Carry On


Would you please send forth a special prayer for Rojo tomorrow? Thank you!

Friday, November 5, 2010

She Who Hears the Cries of the World


This is Quan Yin (or Kuan Yin), the Buddhist goddess of compassion. Her Christian counterpart is Mary. The name Quan Yin means She Who Hears the Cries of the World.

Hears.

NEHBM of being heard. Sometimes I think that's half the reason I write - to be heard. I'm sure one of my life lessons is to come to terms with this, as it was and is still the case that I live with those that have tremendous difficulty listening/hearing/processing/paying attention. Discerning what it is I need and want to say, and how much of that really needs to be "heard" by anyone other than me, is something I'm still very much in the process of.

If you are looking for music that reassures you that there is a higher power out there that is hearing you, I recommend this CD, She Carries Me. It's meditative. It's soothing. It's healing. It's lulling. It's reassuring.

Light the Marys. Invoke Quan Yin. Put the music on repeat and let it wash over you. You are heard. You are heard. You are heard. Amen.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Little Taste of Heaven

There are few things I love more on this planet than a Starbucks eggnog latte. Go ahead, say what you want about Starbucks. Say what you want about non-organic. Say what you want about fat, sugar and calories. Yap it up. Nothing will come between me and my 2-month-a-year addiction.

They started serving them on November 1st, just so you know. Don't let the lack of "WE HAVE EGGNOG!" signs slow you down one tiny bit.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Page from His Book

Eckart Tolle says that worrying is useless, but pretends to be important. Most of what we have running through our minds at any given moment is repetitive and not helpful. The solution, of course, is to quiet the mind and be in the moment - in stillness.

For those of us raised with the don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today mentality, being in stillness feels like a big waste of time. The effort to be still and present is huge when the To Do list won't shut up, and when given a few minutes to gather oneself, feels like the perfect opportunity to not be, but to do.

When I am able to quiet myself through prayer, meditation, walking, even ironing or folding clothes, emptying the dishwasher, something mindless and repetitive, there is an undeniable peace that is right there for the taking if only I will allow myself to take it.

Why does giving up worrying feel like giving up? Control. I know that Mary is in full control of things, sees and knows things I can't begin to know, but I feel positively compelled to keep offering her tidbits of advice and a whole bunch of Don't Forgets.

Rojo tells me every single day now that he is not going to college and in fact, the minute he's done with high school he's getting married and having his five sons. He is not going to work. His work will be raising his boys. He will hear of nothing else. It's one thing when your three-year-old tells you he wants to grow up and be an astronaut. That's cute. That's appropriate. That's even possible. It's another thing when your 14-year-old child with some big ass special needs tells you his one and only dream is to be a father. It's heartbreaking.

And while it's true that he constantly surprises me and is able to do things now I thought we'd never live to see the day he could do, there is a fine line between being hopeful and denial. Between trusting and being naive. Between believing in miracles and being realistic.

I think, for me, the task at hand is to walk that fine line with my eyes toward all possibility, and my mind not on worry, but on being with what is. Gentle, hopeful, peaceful awareness.

And what is ain't all bad. While it's true he still can't tie his shoes or brush his own teeth, the boy is surrounded by angels. He is happy. One might go so far as to say blissful. He has his moments of anxiety and stress, but they pass quickly. He has full confidence that his mother and father are working everything out for him. He falls asleep quickly and rests all night knowing when he wakes up his every need will be provided for. There will always be enough. He shall not want for anything. He will be safe. He will be happy. He will be loved.

Now it is time for me to believe the same about my own Father and Mother.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Awakening



Since the day I admitted you didn't have to go to college to be a dad, Rojo has reminded us frequently that he is not going then. This weekend he told STM, "Dad, I'm not going to college. I'm going to be a dad. I'm not going to college."

"That's okay," STM said, "you don't have to go to college.

"But you want Woohoo to go to college, don't you want me to go to college?"

"Well, you can go to college if you want to, but you don't have to," STM reassured.

"But if Woohoo has to go, why don't I have to go?" he pushed.

"Because school is really hard for you," STM said.

Rojo smiled and seemed satisfied with this answer.

Friday after our last Halloween Carnival, I brought home my banana-clad boy and he said, "Mom, high school is going to make me sad."

"Sad? Because you will miss this school?"

"Sad because of all the work. It's going to be hard."

"What if I get you help? I will make sure you have helpers."

"My same helpers I have now?"

"No, probably different helpers, but people that will really make sure the work isn't too hard."

"But will there be a Resource Room?"

"I'm working on that, Honey, I'm working on that."

"I really need a Resource Room."

Later STM and I were comparing our two conversations and I said they were pretty much flattening me. "Really? I think they're great," he said. "They show that he's got a growing awareness. He's maturing. He's understanding himself. That's good, right?"

Right.

I guess.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stillness and Knowing


I'm out of my mind with anxiety over Rojo's high school placement for next year. My rational, spiritual, intuitive side says, "All will be well. There is not a lot left you have control over. Trust. He always comes out on top and he will again. There are angels all around him and a greater good is being created all the time."

I totally, totally know that and believe that, and honor that.

However, between the hours of Midnight and 6 AM that side of me is nowhere to be found and the anxious, doubting, controlling, freaking out part of me is in full swing and it takes me all day to recover from being with "her" all night.

STM pointed out that when he gets over-stressed he shuts down and when I get over-stressed I fire up. I'm so over-stressed now I'm firing in all directions, totally without a plan, just frantic, nervous, unproductive and pointless firings. Suddenly every home furnishing is on my last nerve. Windows that have been without a treatment for seven years must have one this minute, art must suddenly be framed or reframed. I have to be DOING something, right? I can't just sit here and leave it all up to GOD, can I?

Driving is another time I really like to get myself worked up. Lately I have noticed an abundance of reassuring signs just as I'm deep into the What Ifs. A bumper sticker. A rainbow. A sign on a building.

In my daughter's high school there is my favorite Bible verse stenciled above the chapel doors. "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

I know the call for me is to stop with the doing and be with the knowing.

God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 10 Things I Did Yesterday


10. Spent a very hyper morning with Rojo before he went to school

9. Met with a man that works with ASD teens to discuss possibility of working with Rojo

8. Went to FedEx Office (formerly Kinkos) and made copies of all Rojo's IEP stuff, to give to Rojo's new Resource Room teacher

7. Picked Rojo up at noon since this is a week of half days for conferences

6. Went to conference # 1 for Rojo

5. Went to conference #2 for Rojo

4. Went to conference #3 for Rojo

3. Came home and entertained Rojo until time to make dinner

2. Made dinner with Rojo "entertaining" me the whole time

1. Went to bed and dreamed/obsessed/planned for Rojo all night in my sleep

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nightmare


Had a dream that I was in the backseat of a car my friend was driving. She had her five-year-old daughter in the passenger's seat and the three of us were going to some mysterious place to me, but known to the two of them. This friend has two older children, and up until that moment I believed that was the full extent of her children: three.

We drive through underground gates and passage ways, tunnels and alleys and suddenly she's standing outside the car with a tiny baby in her arms. I see her trying to manage the five-year-old and the baby and offer to hold the baby for her. She dramatically pulls the baby to her closer and shifts away from me saying, "You can go home and read about babies if you want to know more about them!"

I then proceed to tell her that no one has ever in my life uttered more hurtful words, and I storm off determined to find my own way home, but alas, am hopelessly lost in a maze of darkness and spend the rest of the dream struggling to find her again, as she is my only way out.

Pretty sure those aren't the most hurtful words I've ever in my life heard, and now when I type this the whole dream sounds comical, but at the time it felt like a nightmare.

Trying to decide what are the dark and twisty parts of me. What is the baby part of me? The five-year-old part? The punitive part? The withholding and hurtful part? The pulling away and lashing out part? The lost part? The part that just wants to hold the baby?

* photo from i1.trekearth.com/photo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Inside Wall



Well, it's done, the Sisters house closed and STM went over there this past weekend to pack up and haul back everything that he wasn't able to give away. There was nothing of value in the home. Isn't that interesting that I was so attached to all the stuff that is nearly impossible to give away?

Now the garage is full of stuff I am trying to find the proper home for, and as a last resort, hauling to the dump. We did bring home the couch and love seat that were there. We got the set used for $100 years ago, and have beat them up pretty well since. A couple over-the-counter slip covers are doing the trick, though, and now they are in our basement which is actually turning into the family room I've always wanted it to be, instead of the room at the bottom of the steps with all the *&^% in it.

As with all room makeovers, what you do to one, spills over to the next. Now I want to haul the piano from the main floor and put it in the new family room. I've never liked where it was placed when we moved, but I have kept it there all these years because that was the only main floor inside wall for it.

It was all about getting a piano I don't like, in the perfect spot for it and not for us. I inherited the piano when my dad died. He never played it. Not once. He acquired it when one of his tenants moved out and didn't take it. It's not my style. It's got emotional baggage. It's big and heavy and takes up a lot of prime real estate on the main floor. But there it's stayed, without question, for seven years.

Finally dawned on me that since I paid nothing for it, don't like it, and am only keeping it around for Rojo to bang on, it does not need, or in fact deserve inside wall status.

You'll be happy to know that the STM is working on getting a few friends over here, a couple of boards on casters, and hauling that hand-me-down-me-down-me-down piano's ass to the basement and the bad wall it deserves.


* Photo from www.clipartguide.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Top 10 Things I Love About Writing

10. Entertaining myself and with luck, someone else

9. Being silly

8. The cathartic effect of of a good rant


7. Writing something I know will comfort at least one person

6. Writing something I know will get a rise out of at least one person

5. Writing something that makes me laugh

4. The surprises

3. The satisfaction of writing something that really nails it

2. How I don't know what I really think about something until my fingers type it on the computer, and my eyes read it

1. Hearing someone say, "You put into words what I've been thinking, but didn't even know I was thinking."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top 10 Things I Hate About Writing

10. The writing

9. The self doubt

8. All the readers' voices in my head that say, "I want to know more about..." which only serves to make me mad and feel like punishing the reader by deliberately holding back information

7. Every guilty moment spent not writing

6. The dreams, mind wanderings, thoughts and obsessions about the writing

5. The writing

4. A good writing day that makes you temporarily forget just how much you actually do hate the writing

3. The inability to just say, "That's it! I quit!"

2. The feeling that everything you write is pure *&%^ and no one cares anyway

1. The writing

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Accidents


I've probably written 10 blog posts with that title, but I don't care. Not enough can be made of the "law" of no accidents!

I just heard a great story about a man that had a simple question for one of his health care professionals. He knew he could just call and any number of people on the other end of the phone could answer the question, but something told him to go in and talk to the doctor personally, even though he didn't have an appointment. He went in, waited to get seen when there was just a couple free minutes between appointments, and he asked the doctor how he was doing. The doctor told him the truth: not good. The doctor explained the situation and of course, the man without the appointment held a vital part of the solution to the problem.

Such a beautiful reminder to ask each other, "How are you?" and then to listen to the answer. Such a beautiful reminder to tell each other how we really are doing, never knowing how others may fit into the story simply by showing up. Such a beautiful reminder of love.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fruit



Coming home from school, Woohoo is in the passenger seat, Rojo, Flicka and Elmo are squished in the back. "Mom? What does 'fruit' mean?" he asks.

"Fruit?" I say, not sure where he's going with this, because although he doesn't eat fruit, certainly, he knows what it is.


Reading my mind he answers, "Not like a banana, but fruit. You know, like 'fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

Quickly moving my brain from produce to Jesus, I answer "It means what comes from... Jesus came from Mary's womb. We say, 'fruit of our labor' and it means the results, the end product, the outcome.

"Blessed be Mary's fruit," he simply says.


* Madonna and Child by Raphael

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sisters




I don't have any "real" sisters, but let me tell you, I have sisters! Here are three out of four of them, right here. My fourth sister wasn't able to join us on Saturday as we celebrated my mom's 80th birthday. She lives way too far away. Too far away to come for a weekend. Too far away for us to be in her life and her in ours, in any day-to-day way, but not too far away to be out of mind. She was sorely missed.



And here are a couple of cute sisters, don't you think? My mom's on the left. Doesn't she make 80 look good? 

I am blessed to have friends that are like sisters to me, too. Friends I can, and do, say anything to. Friends that are there through thick and thin. Friends that know the minutiae and the unmentionables. 

Sisters and friends, friends and sisters. Same thing.

love.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Valuable




We are more than what we do...
much more than what we accomplish...
far more than what we possess.
- William Arthur Ward


Going through the basement I find a lot of things I've lugged from house to house, simply because someone told me they were valuable. Certain books, art, jewelry, antiques, quilts, that kind of thing. So house after house, year after year, storage box after storage box, they have followed me wherever I've gone.

I certainly could try to Craigslist them. I certainly could work to determine their fair market value and eBay them. I certainly could do a lot of things besides lugging them around for the rest of my life.

Finally occurred to me that while they may be valuable, they are not valuable to me, and what is valuable is the reclaimed time, space and freedom from them.

Priceless.


* Photo from http://upload.wikimedia.org

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Open



Loving my new routine: get kids off to school, walk with Kathleen and Flicka, come home, shower, then write for at 2 hours and/or 2,000 words. I will admit that today I wrote two sections that were brutal to write about, so I let myself be done after two hours even though I hadn't quite hit the 2,000 word mark. The good news is those sections are as done as they are going to be until the next draft, and each day I get closer to writing about the fun stuff: Rojo's spiritual brilliance. At the ages I'm writing about now (up to 18 months), he was just a pain-in-the-ass.

Then I try and tackle one long-put-off home project or another. I discovered something about myself these last couple weeks: I don't want to start something if I can't finish it, and of course I can't finish a book or clean a whole basement in one day, so instead of chipping away, I would just postpone the whole entire thing. Now, I'm slowly, slowly-ing several things at once, moving from one "icky" task to another, just to keep the momentum going.

Walked into the garage today and almost walked out, but instead took advantage of the warm, dry day to haul a bunch of stuff out of there that was clearly garbage and/or recycling. Filled my car with things to take to ARC and the recycling center, and then hopped in the car and did so. Check, check! Didn't finish the garage, not by a long shot, but it looks SO much better already, and that took barely any time/effort at all!

Then I went down to the basement and started hauling stuff into my partially-cleaned garage, ready for the next ARC run (tomorrow). Old duvet covers, lamps, a too-small dog crate for a dog we don't even have, art work I'm sick to death of.

What I noticed as I sweated and hauled, went up and down the stairs and started to feel the difference not just see it, was that almost everything I was giving away wasn't mine originally. No. I was hauling other people's old shit.

I tend to do that a lot - haul things around that weren't mine in the first place, but somehow became so.

Eckhart Tolle plays on the ancient boom box as I move through the house. He says we are not our thoughts. We are the awareness behind our thoughts, and just touching with gentle awareness what's going on with us, as in, "Oh, look! There I go again storing other people's physical and emotional junk!" is half the battle. He says it much more eloquently, but you get the idea.

Today I will gratefully accept half the battle.

And half the junk.








* Photo of Sanskrit for openness from www.liberationny.com/images/

Monday, October 4, 2010

Second Coming



In the car coming home from school on Friday, Rojo pipes up with, "Mom, Jesus Christ is coming back, you know."

"Where has he been?" I ask, one eye on the road, the other in the rearview mirror.

"Hell," he says with a laugh.

"Oh, yea? Where is he going when he comes back?"

"He's going to live in our hearts this time."

Amen.



* Photo from: /www.brittgillette.com

Friday, October 1, 2010


"The only abnormality is
the incapacity to love."
- Anais Nin


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seven



Took my last walk around the Sisters development. Tried to be mindful, and when I wasn't, I tried to Jack Kornfield my mind, as in bringing the mind gently back to awareness, not yelling at it for wandering off.

Caught movement off to the left and saw a few deer. 1,2,3,4. Four deer. One quickly crossed in front of me to the other side of the street and two more followed soon after. I decided to stop walking and just watch whatever was going on with the deer - see if they had a message for me.

The fourth one followed the first three and stopped mid-track. It turned and looked back in the direction from which it had come. It stared and stared at "nothing."

Finally, I saw that it was waiting for another deer. It was not so much waiting, as waiting for the other deer to see which way the others were headed. When eye contact was made, the mid-track deer leaped off with the first three.

Five deer, then. hmmmm....  I thought, five is a weird number...


Sure enough, a sixth and seventh deer came into view and stood with #4. They seemed to be taking a long time to decide if they wanted to join the first four, or head off on their own.

It was deer #4 that spoke to me, the one that knew which direction it wanted to go, but was overly concerned about everyone else...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hard



I've been having fun finding your favorite Rojo blogs, cutting, pasting, reformatting and placing them in some semblance of chronological order. I'm calling this "writing," even though I have yet to construct an original sentence.

The plan is to use those for the scaffolding of the book, to read what they say and write around them. We'll see how that goes. I've already deleted 10,000 words that were too repetitive, vent-ish, and as my friend Laurie says, "crazy-making." My goal is not to make the reader crazy, but to inspire.

Through some flukey search and replace chain of events I couldn't begin to describe if I tried, every single time the letters "rd" appeared in the "manuscript," they were capitalized. I tried my best to search and replace RD for rd, but no. 483 of them remained. And yes, I am just anal retentive enough to have spent the better part of Monday morning individually correcting that.

But here's the deal, so many words have "rd" in them: forward, word, card, etc... but do you know what way too many of my "rd" words were? "Hard."

I do not want to write a book about how hard it's been.

I don't think it was an accident that search and replace worked perfectly for every other thing I tried to make it do, but refused to budge on this one. It took me 483 times to get that I do not want to write the book on hard, but the book on the love, the divinity, the blessings, the glory, the richness, the peace and the wouldn't-trade-my-life-with-anyone's.

That book.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Closet Cleaning


As it turns out, writing a book is a lot like cleaning out a closet - both of which I've been doing a lot of lately.

The thing is, to really clean the closet, you pretty much have to take everything out and see what you've got. This creates a much bigger mess than whatever you started out with, and the temptation is to just cram it all back in and close the door. This does not work.

No. You must go through everything in there and see what you've got. Then you must ruthlessly toss whatever isn't working with the other things in there - even if it's beautiful. Even if it cost you a lot. Even if you absolutely love it. If it doesn't go, it doesn't go.

If it doesn't fit, hasn't been used in at least six months or is simply out of style, never to come back,  it's got to be cut.


* Photo from http://images.marthastewart.com