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.


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


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.


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


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.

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.


Saturday, November 13, 2010


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

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.


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


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?"


I guess.


Driving a car without brakes--stopping the card Fred Flintstone style, new year at college with new roommates, a house so filled-to-over-flo...