Thursday, December 26, 2013

A "Ruined" Christmas

This is, apparently, the first year Wil has heard of anyone getting a lump of coal in their stocking, because they've been bad. The minute he heard, he flew into action. "I am going to ask Santa for a lump of coal in STM's stocking, he's been naughty, and he's getting a lump of coal. I am going to ruin his Christmas!" he said with joy.

I assumed Santa had it all under control, but let's just say there was a little last-minute drama when said coal did not arrive with a moment to spare.

Traditionally, we go over to my mother-in-law's and open gifts on Christmas Eve. As we were walking out the door he announced that Santa would be putting coal in STM's stocking over there, too, even though we'd explained on numerous occasions that those stockings were filled by Grandma, and Santa didn't start his world-wide trek until Christmas Eve night. He accepted the answer, but was disappointed that STM's Christmas Eve would not also be "ruined."

As you may recall, Santa was also asked for an elephant for his friends, Barky and Elmo. There was much anticipation as to what this elephant would look like, and whether or not Elmo and Barky would be excited.

Because this is not our first rodeo, we also told Wil he would be getting a bike for Christmas. We have learned the hard way that he does not like surprises. A bright shiny, red bike showed up one Christmas morning, and he was underwhelmed, to say the least. He liked the (teeny tiny) bike he had just fine, and was not having any of it when it came to moving up to a bigger bike. Even if it came in his favorite color.

This time we got smart. We told him at his birthday time (and prime bike-riding weather), that he'd be getting a new bike for Christmas. His bike was too small for him, and he needed a new one. STM and I made multiple trips to STM's favorite bike shop, and consulted extensively about which bike would best meet Wil's needs. We got it down to two. We took Wil at a specified time to the bike store, explaining it would only take 10 minutes, but he had to ride both bikes and tell us which one he liked best. He chose in his customary "random" way (I think he liked the color, even though we could have ordered the other one in other colors). So, although he did know about the bike, he was excited for the bike, and told everyone, "I'm getting a new bike for Christmas!"

Be that as it may, the three big hits of Christmas were the lumps of coal that "ruined" STM's Christmas, Ellie the elephant for Barky and Elmo, and the true huge hit of the year, the $2.00 bottle of foaming hand soap with Santa on it.

May we all delight in the little things.

Friday, December 20, 2013

And So Forth

"Sin is not the adult bookstore on the corner. It is the 
hard heart, the lack of generosity, and all the isms: 
racism and sexism and so forth." 
- Anne Lamott Help, Thanks, Wow

You're either going to think me a genius, or a nut job, but I had another reading with a spiritual intuitive. It was an entirely an intuitive "decision," that is to say, no "decision" was made. I heard of this woman through a "weird" turn of events (say it with me...) and "knew" I had to schedule a reading. She is, of course, located in my stomping grounds, and was, of course, readily available when I called. That is not to say she is easy to get into, not at all, but everything lined up in a meant-to-be way, and within a few days of calling, I was seated across from her in a folding chair, in a make-shift room, having my chakras cleared.

Turns out my chakras were in pretty good shape. She did ask if I was having troubles with my right side, and I mentioned the hip issue from the dog pulling me on the leash, my cumulative injury. "More than that, though, is the issue of your yin and yang not being in balance, the feminine and masculine sides. Your left side, the feminine, is strong. Your masculine side, the right, is weak. That's the side that speaks out, that stands up for itself, that is willing to confront. If you ask your guides and angels to strengthen that side, I guarantee you'll be given plenty of opportunities to practice!" she said with a giggle.

I have decided that I will live with the occasional twinge. At least until after the holidays. There isn't enough eggnog in the world to entice me to take that on right now.

But the bigger question remains: Do I go out on a limb, and make a point of making a point? Both the astrologer and spiritual intuitive said my message is to awaken people that are asleep to their beliefs that those with lower "intelligence" have nothing to "offer." They are to be dismissed. We are to put up with them. To be "nice." To endure and possibly support, but not to elevate, learn from, watch, pattern after, and hold in high esteem.

Intellectualism is the final frontier. Martin Luther King, Jr. had his dream, and I have mine - to one day live in a world when we are as (appropriately) appalled to hear an intellectualist remark, as we are to hear a racist, or sexist remark.

And so forth.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013


I just finished Anne Lamott's newest work-of-art, STITCHES. No accident that I finished it on the anniversary of Sandy Hook, as it was that horrible tragedy that spurred her to write it. So at a loss of what to do, how to move on, much less restore hope, she did what she does best, she wrote.

I can't think of a single person I know that isn't struggling to find meaning, hope, and/or in need of repair. The one-of-a-kind Anne Lamott did much to help me heal from the Newtown event that I've yet been able to really write about it, it's been sitting on a shelf in my brain for a year, not to be touched. It is too much to take in, too much to grieve, too much to be horrified and saddened by. It's all just too much.

I've seen a few interviews over the last year with parents of children that were killed that day. The stories of how one mom almost didn't send her son to school because he had been up late the night before, and had the sniffles, and how she's had to live with that choice to go ahead and send him.

When I met with the past-life reader, she said she was told by Spirit that the children of Sandy Hook were volunteers, sent with a very special purpose to wake us up from our sleep and change the way we do things. My only issue with that theory is that it implies the shooter was fated to shoot, and I just can't believe anyone makes a soul agreement before coming here, that they will become mass murderers. Maybe they volunteered to come here to change the world, and had it not happened the way it did, they would have each gone on to change it in other ways.

I don't know.

A tragedy does that to us, it shakes what we believe and what we thought to be true, and knocks us so far off kilter we are never the same again.

If you need help being put back together, I would highly recommend both of Anne Lamott's latest books, HELP, THANKS, WOW, and STITCHES.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Look

Wil at 2 months old

When I met recently with the director of the developmental health organization, we talked about "the look."

"There was a look Wil had in his eyes (besides the strabismus) that should have tipped off the doctor that something wasn't right. He was discombobulated-looking, I can see it so clearly now in pictures."

"There is a look," she said, "we know that now. We're training doctors to recognize it. Obviously, the earlier a disorder is recognized and treated, the better."


I'm trying not to let fresh outrage take over, and chalk it up to que sera, sera. But it's hard. Had our doctor seen "the look," I would have welcomed his concern. I realize not all parents of infants want to be told "there's a look," but when a parent comes in with a laundry list of complaints/symptoms, and has "the look" and is still not taken seriously, well... then memoirs are written.

I've occasionally seen pictures of kids, or held a baby and wondered if what I'm seeing is "the look." I don't know quite what to do in those situations. I don't want to be an alarmist. I don't want to force anyone to deal with anything they're not ready to deal with. And I don't want to be wrong. I haven't resolved this conundrum, but what I'm leaning, is to ask leading questions when given the opportunity, and see just where that does indeed lead, if anywhere.

And if it does lead any "where," I hope that is to a place of answers, reassurance, and hope.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Use Me

Oprah says that for years her daily prayer has been, "Use me." If it's good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for me. I've been working with that prayer the last couple of weeks, and some interesting No-Accidents have occurred. My tireless, 1-woman PR team of liz, is systematically working her way through the Archdiocese of Portland, and will not rest until all the principals not only read the book, but order a complete set for all their staff. Apparently, liz is also saying the Use Me prayer each morning.

On Tuesday I received an e-mail from the executive director of an organization devoted to children's developmental health here in Oregon. Someone she works with had given her my book months ago, she'd put it in her briefcase with the best of intentions, but didn't have a chance to read it until Monday, at which point she read it straight through. We met yesterday, and she has since ordered the book for everyone on her staff, all the clinicians, behavioral peds, everyone. She wants me to do a book signing and give a talk. I mentioned that I would love to talk to a group of doctors someday, because it is my fervent wish that my experience of not being taken seriously, not be replicated. She said, "I can arrange that."

I'm trying not to get ahead of myself, just trying to stay in the moment of gratefulness that my book is doing the work it was meant to do, however big or far-reaching that may be, or not be.

What may be, may be, que sera sera.

Use me.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Stockings Were Hung

This is my 20th Christmas as a parent, and the first one in which I'm not taking a kid, or kids, to see Santa. Last year Wil and I made the pilgrimage to the mall, and 24-hours later there was a shooting in the same mall, in the same spot, and that was enough to further traumatize me to the point I put my foot down.

I told Wil that this year he'd be e-mailing Santa, and that I would need to proof-read the email before he sent it, just so I could make sure Santa would know what he was talking about. God bless modern technology and the horse it rode in on. The whole thing took less than 2 minutes and he's as happy as a clam knowing Santa will be able to make his dreams come true.


Today he said, "Care? Will Santa bring a real elephant or a stuffed elephant for my friends?"

"I hope to God he brings a stuffed elephant," I said.

Then we pulled out the glitter glue pens and wrote ELMO on one side of the cheap-o, off-the-shelf stocking, and BARKY on the other. We hung the stocking with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas, soon would be there.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top 10 Things You Heard Here First

10. Primary care physicians, particularly those that deal with the geriatric crowd, should have to undergo some training in special ed. Let's face it, if we live long enough, we all end up with special needs.

9. Another great idea of mine is to employ people (such as myself) to sit in on doctor appointments and be the interpreter between the doctor and the age/special-needs-affected patient. It would be their/my job to read body language, to repeat what wasn't heard, to rephrase, reiterate, simplify, summarize and in all ways be most helpful.

8. Holidays need their own drinking games. These games do not necessarily need to include anyone but you. Just rattle off the Top 10 Most Annoying Things Your Family/Extended Family Does (this won't take long) and every time one of them goes into effect, chug.

7. You'll be drunk, but you won't care, and if that's a problem for any of them, let them devise their own game accordingly.

6. For every "bad" tradition (read: anything that makes you want to devise a drinking game), create a "good" one to counter-balance (read: devise a drinking game).

5. Everyday should be a day to give thanks, even if you have to dig deep.

4. Pandora, alone, is enough reason to be thankful.

3. Oh, and Netflix.

2. There are no accidents.

1. Love.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Not a whole lot to report from these parts, at least not a whole lot of interest. I could go on and on about the thrill I get every time I see an empty shelf, drawer, tote, or space where something used to be, that isn't anymore, but I won't. The deep purge continues. I've got a few drawers and cupboards to go, and still haven't tossed all my old teaching materials or journals, but I'm plugging along. The recycling bin is full each week, and that is the goal. My car continues to fill with stuff that needs a better home, and each time I drop off a load, I feel as though my own personal baggage load has been lightened.

STM asked me the other day, "When is the last time we cleaned the light fixtures?"

The last time was never. In 10 years, they've never been touched.

This may sound silly, trite, and in the grand scheme of things, utterly ridiculous, but taking down the shades, washing them, cleaning the fixtures, wiping off the bulbs and putting them all back, was holy. It was an opportunity to practice giving thanks. Thanksgiving for the time and space to do it. Thanksgiving for the home I live in. Thanksgiving for the place we are in our lives, with our children, with our marriage, with our wherewithal, that allows this to be be on the To Do List, after 10 years of putting out fires, and chasing our tails.

We aren't the same couple that moved into this house 10 years ago. We aren't the same parents. We aren't the same family.

And for that, we give thanks.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dear Younger Self

Dear Younger Self,

Wow, looking through all the files you created years and years ago, I can see just how hard you worked to create order out of disorder. I can see that you thought all the information you worked so hard to acquire, could be used to help someone else someday, and you'd be ready. You'd have your files set inside matching swinging files, all labeled and ready-to-go. When someone wanted information on ADHD, ASD, OCD, OT, how to talk to kids about dying, the signs of depression, and on and on, you'd be a vast warehouse of at-your-fingertips information.

You didn't know that all that effort to clip, sort, file and save was going to just sit there and never be opened. Not once would you take the green lid off that Rubbermaid tote. Not once. Years and years later, after the crises had all passed, you'd pull out that tub from the bottom of other tubs, and wonder  - but just for a second - what it was you were thinking at the time?

You know what you were thinking. You were thinking you'd try to help others. You were thinking that  if you kept your hands busy, your mind could stay quiet. You were thinking that if you were "doing" you were doing enough. You were thinking if the information was in a sensical form, you'd be able to make sense of the diagnoses. Actually, you weren't thinking at all - you were responding.

Maybe your husband was right, you should have been "smoking a lot more reefer," instead of doing and going all the time, but that's okay. That's not who you were.  You were a doer and a goer and those are not traits to apologize for - the world needs doers and goers. The world needed you.

So, thank you, Younger Self, for your optimism, for your consideration, for your efforts all around. When you meet up with Older Self, smile at her from the past, wave as you pass the baton to her and let her take what you've done and where you've gone - all your doing and going, and bless her as she takes a deep breath.

And exhales.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Top 10 Most "Helpful" Things I've Found While Purging

10. Clippings, clippings and more clippings from my mother

9.  Eye glass prescriptions dating back to '06

8. VHS tapes that are really advertisements for some ADHD treatment

7. Cassette tape explaining autism to me

6. Old, used name tags

5. Brochures and info. on events that are over a decade old

4. A Post-It note with ideas of how I can help Wil work on his vestibular system, circa 1998

3. Woohoo's standardized testing results from 2006

2. Every receipt for every single Apple purchase we've ever in our lives made

1. The original literature/brochures for my '97 Honda CR-V

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Third Stage People

Wil and I are going to be photographed together on Saturday, as part of a project a friend is doing. She wants to document mothers of special-needs children, and include in her project an ethical will/legacy letter-type thing.

"What have you found to know or trust or believe as part of YOUR life journey? What have you learned from adversity, how have you navigated the tough times, what or who gives you hope and perspective?"

I've been mulling over those, and the other questions she has raised, over the last couple of days. I wrote a whole book on that very topic, but how to condense it all down to just one page?

This morning I not only drove Wil to school, but two of his friends that also have special needs. All three very different boys, with very different needs and strengths. Two of the boys are in a religion class called Morality and Justice. They, apparently, are learning about the Stages of Morality. Wil's friend, Jack, told me all about it, "Carrie, there are three stages of morality. There's the Self Stage, where you only care about your self. Then there's the stage where you only care about yourself and a few other people, like your family. Then there's the third stage, where you care about everyone."

"You're in that third stage, Jack," I said.

"Yea," he said, "so are all of us. Everyone in this car cares about everyone."

Then we bumped fists and got really excited about how awesome we all are, what with our magnanimity and all.

Ironically, despite all the extra attention, extra therapies, extra miles gone for the special-needs child, it is my experience that most special-needs children are Third Stage People, they don't think it's all about them.

If I had to boil down what I've come to believe most through the journey of raising a special-needs child, is that we are ONE. There is no "us" or "them," we are all threads in the greater tapestry, and all of our thoughts, words and actions affect the WHOLE.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Song

My cousin, Jim, a talented musician and song writer, posted on Facebook that my post, Uninvited, inspired him to write a song! Here is his beautiful song:

"I don't recall a hand extended/or any special invitation/all falling free from where we ended/ending years of speculation/
truth be told I don't like bitchin'/and don't hold out for salvation/but when my friends are in the kitchen/I know they came by invitation/

Uninvited, uninvited
Don't feel passed over or slighted
You're a ghost in no one's dream
And no one needs your grifter smile
Uninvited, uninvited
When the band is reunited
We'll be passing 'round the good stuff
And we'll go the extra mile"

Written by Jim Goodwin

No one needs your grifter smile! Amen! Let's all use "grifter" three times today and make it ours forever!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have been having great and helpful dreams again, I seriously think it's the improvement in the feng shui! For those of you that need a reminder, there's a great book out there that has super easy, practical ways to improve the energy flow in your home and in your LIFE:

Everyone I know that has bought the book, swears by it. Do yourself a favor and get the book already.

Back to the dreams. The other night I dreamt that we had two coffee makers in our kitchen, one for me, and one for everyone else. What was most interesting about this, was that the one for me was the good one! In the dream I had invited a friend over for coffee. I poured her a cup from the other coffee maker, and then I happened to notice this other person just sitting in my kitchen. I noticed she also had a cup of coffee from the other coffee maker. I was so pleased with myself in the dream, because I had not fussed over this person, in fact, I had not even noticed her. I went on to enjoy coffee with the invited friend, and didn't give the time of day to the interloper as she sat there and drank sub-par coffee.

I'd love to think this means I'm going to "pour from the good one" in real-life, too, as well as ignoring those things and people that I do not invite into my life, because they are, well, just that, uninvited.

Monday, November 4, 2013


On the outside, it looks like I'm consumed with clearing junk that's been stored for years in my basement, and painting my living room and dining room. On the outside it looks like all I want to do is freshen, purge, repair, replace, and recycle. And even I was lured into thinking that what it looks like, is what it is.

But we'd both be wrong.

There's something about turning 50. There's something about facing forward in the next decade to come (Lord willing). There's something about getting ready for what's next, that is happening. It's like when you're eight months pregnant and you start nesting like crazy: cleaning, sorting, washing everything, folding neatly, and getting yourself as prepared as one can be, before the big event.

Whether or not there's an actual "big event" coming or not, is anybody's guess, but what we do know, is that like all the ages and stages that have come before, something is dying so that something may be reborn. To "die" there must be a clearing away, a letting go, a leaving behind and a putting away, so that there may be a picking up and moving forward in a clearer, cleaner, and less "cluttered" manner.

I do some of my best meditating when I'm in this mode, some of the most helpful insights and connections come to me when I'm moving my body, my stuff, and the energy of the stuff. I'm trying to Eckhart Tolle my way through, that is to say, touch with gentle awareness, the accumulations, the stories behind what is there and why it's there, the inherited baggage, the stuff I have because nobody else wanted it, but nor did they want it to disappear entirely. When I look around and see all the stuff my mother has given me because she no longer had the space or desire for it, but yet, wanted it to stay in the family, I am both honored and burdened. As I go through each photo, each packet of clippings, each box of memories, I see a younger version of myself that has dutifully lugged it all from house to house to house, without ever really wanting it, but never having the skills to make it go away.

I don't want to pass all that on to the next generation, it's not Woohoo's place or problem. It never really was mine, either, but I allowed it to be, and now, at 50, I'm ready to relinquish all the stuff, and all the stuff that is attached to the stuff.

There is a definite shift in the feng shui of the house already, even though right now if you were to take a look, you would see a disaster - furniture all shoved to the the center of the rooms, tools, step stools, paint cans, art, lamps, all the crap everywhere but where it should be.

Sometimes we have to strip our own inner walls, move all our crap to the center of our being and allow the energy to move where it has been stagnant, open up the places that are stuck, and let go of what we no longer need, what is not serving us, what we have just been dutifully carrying for far too long.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Doesn't Everyone?

Doesn't everyone have a child that insists on bypassing the perfectly good bathroom right next to his bedroom, in favor of brushing, or rather, having his teeth brushed, in the laundry room?

Doesn't everyone also have an iron with it's cord neatly wrapped up, on a shelf in the laundry room?

Doesn't everyone go incident-free in the laundry room, whilst brushing one's son's teeth for years, only to have said iron suddenly, and inexplicably, fall from the shelf and land on one's head?

Doesn't everyone have a son that laughs harder than he's ever laughed before, when his sainted mother lets out a string of curse words and lies on the floor, writhing in pain, BECAUSE AN IRON FELL ON HER HEAD?

I thought not.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Help Yourself

Portland, a city not known for its great weather, has had a breathtaking fall. Let's go back, spring was great, too, and so was summer. Three seasons of beauty, with every reason to believe our winter will be spectacular, too. The forecast was for rain on Halloween, and I was hoping the forecast was wrong, and we could hold onto our streak for one more day, just so all the kids could enjoy a dry night of trick-or-treating. The forecast was indeed wrong-ish, it sprinkled a little in the morning, and the evening was dry and warm!

Wil, having eschewed trick-or-treating for 17 years, announced in early September that he was going to be a monkey. We ordered his costume and it sat in his closet, until it finally occurred to me we should take it out and try it on, just to make sure it was going to fit. The thing was one size fits "most" and nobody every accused that boy of being "most."

"It'll be fine," he said, and so it came to be that he put the outfit on in a mad dash before school on Thursday, for the very first time. Usually, our mornings are anything but mad dashes, we have way too much time because he wakes up so early, and takes very little time to actually get ready, but he needs a built-in period of lying around with the iPad, listening to iHeart Radio, before he's ready to really launch the day. It's his coffee. I went for a very early walk Thursday, and when I got back, he was still asleep, plus he had an early morning Peer Mentors meeting, hence, the mad dash.

The monkey costume came with monkey hand gloves and a big head, with the the face totally open, so I thought there was a slim chance he'd wear it, at least for a picture. No dice. And the tail. I did not factor in what having a very long tail would do to him. Let's just say that that tail became a belt more quickly than you can say, no-way-in-Hell. The "belt" cinched his pants way too high, and he was left with high waters. Basically, the only possible way of knowing he was a monkey, was if he told you he was. He mostly looked like a tall kid that had grown out of his brown pants, and happened to have a brown top on, too.

Happy as a clam that "monkey" was, to plan his first real trick-or-treating outing. In early October he'd already arranged with his friend, Tim, to go out for the evening, a plan that was going to work for both of them, because neither wanted to go long or far, and both wanted to get to bed at pretty much their usual time. But then it mushroomed. Each day Wil came home from school with a more elevated plan for the evening. I did some of my best letting go and letting God, you ever did see. I didn't call mothers. I didn't check with the boys themselves. Nary an e-mail or text was sent.

I did have the foresight to buy extra beer (for me) and two take-and-back pizzas for the crowd. All were consumed. It turned out that five boys from the program he's in at school, sat around our barely-used dining room table, and had themselves a dinner party. STM, Tim's mom, Kim, and I sat in another room, sipped on our adult beverages, and marveled at the day we thought would never come.

"Has enough been made that Wil's having a dinner party?" I must have said ten times.

The doorbell started ringing, and the boys hopped up and answered it, giving us more time to celebrate their awesomeness. When it was finally dark enough for them to go, they put on their makeshift costumes, stood briefly for a picture, and were out the door. Kim and I went to the front porch with our glasses and huge cauldron of candy, and STM stayed inside to clean up the mess. He'd pop out to refill our glasses and the candy and see how it was all going, then go back inside.

Because by this time I was so "relaxed" from all the celebrating, I opted to just put the cauldron down in front of us, rather than holding it and selecting the candy for each kid, and putting it in their bags from them. Kim and I had fun seeing the reactions when we'd say, "Help yourself!"

There were the diggers, the ones that wanted to crouch down and search for just the right piece. There were the easy-to-pleasers, the ones that just grabbed the first piece their fingers came upon. By and large, most took one piece, said thank you, and were on their way.

But not all.

One girl looked right at us, dead in the eye, after we told her to help herself, and she said, as though to dare us to argue with her, "I'll take two!"

Some would ask, "How many can I take?" To which we'd reply, "How many would you like?" Most would answer, "Two." "Have at it," we'd say, and their faces would light up with the magnitude of their haul.

One little girl, about seven, with dazzling light-blue eyes and blond hair, answered, "FIVE!" when we asked her how many she'd like. Her side kick lit up, and the two of them got down in there and foraged until they'd found just the perfect five.

They came back 20 minutes later and marched themselves right to the front of the line, and without even going through all the formalities, began their hunt all over again.

Kim is a second grade teacher, and we had a ball talking about the kind of adults these different personality types, would grow up to be. We don't need a long-term, costly research study to tell us this, the ones that know from an early age, that you've gotta ask for what you want, unapologetically, with charisma and strength, are going to be just fine. I, myself, would have taken the one on top, only one, never forgetting to say, "Trick-or-treat," and always remembering to say, "Thank you!" It's only at age 50 that I can finally stand with my hands on my hips, look someone right in the eye, smile and say, "I'll take TWO!"

Monday, October 28, 2013


On my To Do List for at least two years, has been Call Attorney Re: Special Needs Trust and Guardianship. I moved that sucker from list to list to list never once picking up the phone. Didn't want to open Pandora's box, didn't want to start the ball rolling, not knowing just where it would roll, didn't want to do it, period.

Finally, the pain of not doing it, became worse than the pain of doing it, and so I made the call. STM and I met with the attorney on Friday, and let me just say this about that: I had the best sleep that night that I've had in years. 

I know the issue of guardianship can be controversial - declaring your child incompetent is not something we take likely. Who wants to declare that? Who doesn't want their child to achieve independence, to be able to make good adult choices on their own? We all want that, but not all our children are really headed that way, anytime soon anyway.

To us, the question came down to this: Does Wil want and need us to keep doing what we're doing, after he's 18? Yes.

The attorney was trying to get a general sense of Wil by our description, so he could guide us and answer our questions. I should have just showed him this picture, as it's a common sight in our house. Wil often gives me his "son," Elmo, to watch while he's at school - tells me when Elmo needs to take a nap, what he needs to learn from me as he's homeschooled, and when he might want a snack. Sometimes he's worried I will forget the ever-important snack, so he provides one for Elmo, himself.

On Sunday the family gathered to honor the one-year mark since STM's father's passing. We met at the cemetery, said a few words, then gathered back at STM's family home to eat Snickers ice cream bars, and toast a man we all loved and miss. As brief as it really was, we were all exhausted when it was over - grief is an ass-kicker. In the car, STM asked, "What's everyone going to be doing when we get home? I will be watching football."

"N-A-P-P-I-N-G!" I answered.

Wil piped up from the back seat, "K-I-S-S-I-N-G  E-L-M-O!"

While he may be "incompetent" when it comes to making his own health care or financial decisions, while he needs help brushing his teeth and putting on a belt, while he cannot prepare even the simplest meals for himself or use both a knife and fork, he is quite competent in his endless ability to demonstrate and teach how to love.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where to Start?

My life is so exciting, I hardly know where to start. Should I start by telling you that I finally got those stubborn stains off the toilet bowl, using a pumice stone? That the "stone" was $3.00, it took about 2-3 minutes per toilet, and I'm as happy as a clam every time I take a glance at the pristine, white bowls?

Should I start by telling you that I have five special-needs-related meetings this week and I'm grumpy about each and every one of them?

Should I start by telling you that I am tired of the educating, the advocating, the planning, and the getting of ducks in their nice, little rows?

Should I start by telling you that I think I found a paint color for the living room? That after six tries at one paint store, I went into a whole different one, bought the fan deck, picked a color in about 2 seconds, and it's perfect? Should I tell you its name is "Essential Gray?" Essential. That is what that color is to me. I need to make that room neutral and calming. I need it, badly. That being said, our grand plan (which is going to take 5 years to implement at the rate we're going) is to have bright, bold art and upholstery. We want chairs in one bright, print fabric and the couch in a contrasting bright, print fabric.

Should I start by telling you that I am actually looking forward to getting back into my basement and chucking 50% of the stuff still left in there? I am so over it. I watched two episodes of "Hoarders" recently, and that cured me. One of the women featured said the most interesting thing, "I buy the stuff because I think, If I have that, my family will come over for Thanksgiving. That will be nice to use when they're here. I finally realized that the stuff was the problem, not the solution." That disconnect astounds me. Having buried a father who died with at least 50 used styrofoam coffee cups he was "saving," I am well aware that I could go either way on this one. They do say there's a genetic link.

Should I start by telling you that I broke my No-More-Netflix rule and watched an episode recently of "Call the Midwife," and I love it, and there are many more episodes in my future?

I think I should start by telling you that it's officially time to wrap this post up, and commence with Beer O'Clock.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Autism in Love

Do yourself a favor and spend 4:27 watching this poignant film about autism and relationships. It's the perfect length film, because any longer and I would have been beside myself - this issue is so close to home. Wil mentions daily, if not several times a day, his plans to marry and have kids (triplets, don't forget!).

Just like the mother in the film says, and I'm paraphrasing, I don't know if my son can get married, but I don't want anyone telling me he can't. I need to believe it's possible. In fact, I need to believe that all of his dreams are possible.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Drive Yourself Stark Raving Mad Picking Paint Colors

10.  Don't buy a fan deck

9. Bring home 10 different swatches and get 10 different opinions

8. Go back to store and select 3 colors, paint them in three different places

7. Hate all 3

6. Repeat

5. Have everyone that walks in the door tell you which one they like best and why

4. Try to please each of these people

3. Pick a color you love, then pick carpet

2. Decide the color you love, does not work with the carpet

1. Repeat until you relent and buy a fan deck

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Reason I Jump

I had been hearing about this book, and this amazing human, Naoki Higashida, and "jumped" right on ordering it from my local independent book seller (Julie Wallace at Wallace Books - go there!). However, I found that I didn't jump right on actually reading it. It sat in the pile taunting me. The last thing I want to do after finally climbing into bed, is read about autism. So, I did the opposite. I got up early for a few days (not many, it's a quick read), had my coffee, and read the book as a meditation.

I highly recommend this beautiful book to anyone and everyone. It's written in a Q&A format, and Naoki answers many of the questions associated with autism, at least as they apply to him. Wil doesn't have classic autism, but there was enough of what Naoki said that clicked for me, and I realized he put to words what I have felt in my soul.

One such example is, "Why do you memorize train timetables and calendars?" His answer was because it's fun! He loves the simplicity, clearness and unchanging nature of numbers. They are fixed. They are predictable. Much of an autistic's life is spent managing anxiety, much of their behavior we consider "weird" is their efforts to do just that.

He was asked about free time, and his response was that for many autistics, free time is un-free time. What they spend their time doing is not so much what they want to be doing, as what they can do.

When visiting a Japanese town he came across a giant Buddha, and was moved to tears. "... it was the sheer weight of history and generations of people's hopes, prayers and thoughts that broke over me, and I couldn't stop myself crying. It was if Buddha himself was saying to me, 'All human beings have their hardships to bear, so never swerve away from the path you're on.'" He wants people to know that not all crying is sadness and meltdowns, or being upset, that people with autism can be moved.

But my favorite thing he says is the answer to this question: What are your thoughts on autism itself?

"I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization. Sure, this is just my own made-up theory, but I think that, as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet-wreaking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists.

Autism has somehow arisen out of this. Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways. We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure."


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

15-Year Goals

Have you ever made 15-year goals? I've somehow managed to eek by all these years without goals of any specified length, but Wil has, indeed, 15-year goals, and they include:

1. Get married

2. Have children (one set of triplets)

3. Move to Anaheim (and live in the Castle at Disneyland)

4. Send my kids to day care

You love it, right? I know you do. I particularly love that he has his kids shipped off to day care as he enjoys some kid-free time in the Castle.

Monday, October 14, 2013


My mom and me at the Oregon State Capitol, 1965?

 Woohoo at 6, Rojo at 4*

On Thursday when I turned on the hot water, it came out scalding. In the shower I had to adjust the mixer knob thingy almost to cold, to keep myself from being burned to death. I asked STM to please adjust the temperature on the hot water tank, and he assured me he'd get right on it that evening.

Friday morning the "hot" wouldn't get past luke warm, so I very gently "suggested" STM re-adjust the hot water tank again, more to my liking. He confessed he'd forgotten to ever adjust it in the first place, and what was actually happening, was our ancient tank had gone tits up.

Not to worry, he had a guy come out and drain the old tank, and a new one was put into place. That was the easy part. What was hard about the whole thing was hauling all the crap away from the old tank, and making room for a new one to get dragged into a room with barely a breath of space between boxes of junk.

It was mortifying, actually, to have another living soul in our basement, a testament to our ways. "It's almost like hoarding down there," STM said.

"Care will get it," I answered.

To be perfectly clear, Care has "gotten" it any number of times in the past. The place fills up, Care clears it out, and somehow it mysteriously fills up again. For some reason, we're storing a bunch of stuff for someone I've only met once - a friend of Woohoo's. That's the easiest to identify and ship off to its rightful owner. Much of the other stuff is pretty cut and dry, too. Useless junk is useless junk. It's the sentimental stuff I can't part with, and by "sentimental" I mean teaching units I worked hard at creating, never mind that they haven't been used in over 14 years and are antiquated. I have a million pictures of every kid I ever taught. I rifled through a big stack of them today, and it was amazing how both their first and last names came back to me, even after 25 years.

I found old journals, brutal to read, yet I can't seem to toss them. I don't have all the kids' old toys and clothes, but I have their/my favorites. I have nearly all their books, and many from my own childhood, too. Heavy tote after heavy tote of books we never look at. What am I saving them for? Grandchildren? Am I going to open my own damn preschool?

I found three jigsaw puzzles that have never even been opened, and several that have only been put together once. Games, games and more games. VHS and DVDs. Will there ever be a point in time that we'll want to watch another Olsen Twins video on VHS? And if so, what's the matter with us?

Want to see printed drafts of a book I never published, and never will, so help me God? Got 'em!

How about components to old TVs and stereos we no longer own? Check!

Two million decorations for every holiday known to man? A few party hats and matching plates/napkins from birthdays gone by? Got all that, too!

The goal is to divide the hoarding mess in half, and be able to quickly find everything, should we ever "need" it. I'm guessing I have at least three carloads of stuff already, that needs to go to Goodwill, and I'm far from done.

I know that what I'll feel is relief, when the stuff is gone. I know I won't miss it. I know that when I go down there and can actually walk, I'll feel great - lighter, more able to breath, free of the past and all the stickiness that goes with it. Let me say it again - reading the old journals is so brutal, why would I put myself through ever having them around to read again, by me, and God forbid, someone else? I guess it's the hours and hours and hours that went into writing them that feels "wasted."

Woohoo is home for Fall Break and I made her go down there for two hours with me today. She made a nice dent in her own corner of the basement. All her old teeth that I so carefully kept for her? Gone in an instant. She was a little too quick to part with old photos, I'll have to save those for the next go-round in a few years. She was great about shedding a lot, though, and admitted, it's much easier to part with stuff you've acquired recently, than anything you've held onto for a long time.

And there it is, isn't? The longer we've held onto something, anything, an emotion, a grudge, a memory, a burden, a thing, a person, the harder it is to let go of.

* I pulled these pictures off of an old poster board from when Wil was in 1st grade and Star-of-the-Week

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Care Will Get It

STM and I have had a joke for years, he would rip open a package of something, leave the remains on the counter and say, "Care will get it." Shoes. Socks. Dirty dishes, all things Care would get. Care being Care, would get them, too, because Care cannot stand for those things to just sit there, and STM counted on just that very thing.

Both kids have gone big with the Care-will-get-it way of life, and Woohoo has passed it on to her friends at college. When Woohoo, Noah and Marcie were at our house briefly on Friday before getting Wil, they made smoothies and left all the dishes/blender/etc. in the sink, with the following note:

Not sure just how much trouble three kids and two beers can get into, so I didn't get too worked up about the little PS.

Later this week Woohoo texted to say that Noah walked into the dorm kitchen and it was a mess, he said, "Care will get it." I'm sure whomever made the mess has a "Care" at home, too, that has picked up way too much after people that are way too capable of picking up after themselves. But it's hard to teach an old Care, new tricks.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Luxury Problems

Anne Lamott, in her marvelous book, HELP, THANKS, WOW talks about the how much time, effort and attention go to "fixing our toys." It's so true, and it's such a luxury problem to have that A) I have toys, and B) I have the time and wherewithal to either fix them, or arrange to have them fixed. That being said, it feels like that is all I really do anymore. It's enough to make me want to go off the grid, live in seclusion, away from the Internet and 3G, away from voicemail, email, text messaging, passwords and comment verifications, away from remote controls, alarms, reminders, alerts, DVRs, anything with a battery, cord, or button. I fantasize about holing up in a remote cabin with a fire, candles, a good (real, hold-in-your-hands) book, and a cozy blanket. I want only to hear the crackling of a fire, and not the buzz of technology.

I think the next up and coming professions will be those that help people break and/or recover from technology addiction/overload. Don't get me wrong, I love at as much as the next guy, I'm all over my Smart TV with the Netflix button on the remote. Next episode of "Scandal" ready and waiting for me at my command? Yes, please! I want to marry my iPhone. I adore text messagine. Emojis? Delightful. But when I walked with Kathleen this morning and we caught up on our weeks, all I could really report on mine were Comcast and Apple stories that I'm sure, bored her to tears.

I don't really know where I'm going with all this, other than to say technology is both a blessing and a curse, and on a continuum. To strike that perfect balance where it's working for us, not against us, where it's making our lives simpler, not more complicated, where it's connecting us in an authentic way, not inauthentic, manufactured, made-for-Facebook sound bites, that's the challenge.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Marathon

Here we are oh, let's say, about mile 10? Not really sure, I just know it's when Kathleen's husband showed up, took our sweaty long-sleeved tops from us, and snapped our picture.

Her sweet husband, Jerry, showed up a total of FOUR times along the course, as well as chauffeured us back and forth to the race. I think this was the home stretch, mile 25. See how happy we were to be almost done?

The race was great, really great. The weather could not have been more perfect, and that's saying a lot. Just the week before it rained in sheets for days on end. Sunday it was dry, sunny, but not hot, and there was a little breeze.

That's Kathleen in the white, and her daughter, Michaela, in the orange. We were very happy she chose orange when we got there and were in our corals, trying to keep sight of each other. Also, during the first mile or two when everyone was bunched up and zig zagging all over the place.

The pink hats Kathleen and I wore say Love. As Wil would say, "Cute story." A few summers back, Kathleen and I were each in Cannon Beach, Oregon, at different times. We each walked into the same little store, saw those hats, and bought one for the other person for Christmas, months away. When we opened each other's gifts, it was a Gift of the Magi moment. We knew we had to wear the hats for the Marathon, so that Love. could be in every picture.

Jerry wasn't our only fan, STM, Wil and Flicka came out, we saw Woohoo's friend, Marcie, who was volunteering, friends from church found us three different times, liz, Tom and Nancy met us at mile 22 for hugs and high fives. It was a love fest.

I wish I'd photo documented some of the get-ups and the clever signs along the way. One couple had on black shorts, on her but were the letters SE on his were XY. Some of the signs said things such as, "You're running better than the government!" "Pain is temporary, but Internet results are forever!" "This seemed like a good idea 4 months ago!" "Your feet hurt because you're kicking so much ass!" "Sweat is liquid awesome!" "Toenails are for sissies!" There was formal entertainment, too, in fact, the whole event was so entertaining, the time went by quickly, all 5:37 of it.

We didn't break any records, but we were in the ballpark of our goal, we finished with pride, nobody got hurt, and we had a lot of fun!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

College Visitation

The conversations started back in August, maybe even July. "Wil? Do you want to come and spend the night with me at college this year?"

"I will on October 4th," he answered, each time the question was asked, never once looking at a calendar. As we all know, October 4th landed on a Friday this year, and as luck would have it, Wil's high school football team had an away game (far away), so he was free.

Woohoo and Wil worked out the whole entire thing on their own, all I did was pack him a bag and leave it by the front door. Woohoo and two friends, Marcie and Noah, came and got his stuff, before they had a "wild" time at Trader Joe's, Safeway, Bi-Mart, and even the Franz Bakery Outlet (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). Then the three wild ones drove out to Wil's school and picked him up when he was out.

Woohoo lives in a "coed" dorm, but really, it's a girls' dorm with a boys' dorm attached. They even have different names. Noah was one of Wil's student assistants his freshman year, and they've stayed in touch. Whenever we go visit Woohoo, we try also to see Noah. Woohoo explained it all to Wil that he would not be able to actually sleep in her room, but that Noah and his roommate had room and wanted him, and she'd be "right next door." He bought it. And when I told him he could skip showering, but not brushing his teeth, he was downright giddy.

Wil being Wil, rejected all spirit wear options from Woohoo's university I presented to him on Friday morning, and instead, wore a college T-shirt from a rival college. That's about right. I should have forbade him from wearing anything remotely in the color scheme of her college, and he would have been all decked out.

Woohoo, Wil, Noah, Marcie and a few others, had a great time. They went to dinner, they hung out in the different rooms, and at 8:30, Wil went to bed. Noah had an event he had to go to, but the sainted roommate put headphones on and stayed in the room with Wil, playing video games. Woohoo told Wil he could wake up whenever he wanted, but he couldn't be noisy until 8:00. He woke up at his usual 6:00 AM, and STM and I began getting texts. He quietly listened to music on his iPad until the roommates woke up, fortunately, they both had to be up early anyway. Woohoo took over, but the dining hall didn't open until 10:00, so thinking ahead, she had gotten extra "taco" from the commons the night before, and heated that up for him in the kitchen in the basement of her dorm, where he could be as noisy as he wanted to be.

When the commons did open, the gang all gathered there for the last hurrah, then she packed him all up neatly and efficiently, and brought him back home!

STM was banging around in the kitchen with a spring in his step, "I'm excited for the kids to come by," he said. I felt like I'd been picked up out of the present (and my fears of the future) and dropped into some alternate universe where we were happy empty nesters, excited for the kids to stop by.

I'm choosing to believe his words were more prophetic than just a case of him not really saying what he meant to say. Either way, the "kids came by" and it was fun. Then one of the kids left to go to her other home. Now, the next time someone asks Wil if he's visited any college, he can say, "Yes. I even had an overnight."

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Young Folks

Temple Grandin believes there are three types of specialized thinkers::

1. Visual thinkers (they think in pictures)
2. Music and Math thinkers
3. Verbal Logic thinkers

She herself is a visual thinker. If I had to pick one, I'd say I was, too, but certainly not "specialized." We've known with Wil from the beginning, that his mind thought musically. During the 18 long months he did little more than cry, he'd show a bit of interest in some jingles that came on TV, and even pause the crying for a blessed moment or two.

Fast forward to the age of the iPad and the birth of iHeart Radio. Wil could spend all day on that thing, and has become a music aficionado. He loves all types of music, truly, all types, and has encyclopedic knowledge of bands, their songs, their genre, and which station in which state is most likely to play their music. He loves everything from the Steve Miller Band to Katy Perry. He's good at math, too, no mathematical genius, but his mind thinks mathematically. He can add and subtract effortlessly. I, being visual, am still seeing the problem, borrowing, carrying, and all that nonsense, long after he's come up with the answer. He doesn't solve the problem, he knows the answer. He has math sense that will elude me to my dying day.

Wil plays the piano and sings all the time. He's never had a lesson (but he will, don't you worry, he will). His right hand never misses a note. His left is a bit loud and thumpy, but still, pretty amazing. When he wants to learn a new song, I put Scotch tape on the keys and then write with a Sharpie, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. He follows the numbers to get the tune the first time or two, and then he's set. That song is permanently locked in his data base, and at his ready any time, day or night.

We were at the yogurt shop on Thursday with his former Resource Room teacher, her husband and new baby (the one for whom he's the godfather). We were all chatting away, and all of a sudden Wil broke through the conversation with the question of what was the name of the song on the radio. We all recognized it, but didn't know the name, let alone the band. He persevered and I brought out my trusty iPhone with the Shazam app and in a few seconds was able to tell him it was "Young Folks," by Peter, Bjorn and John.

This morning, four days later, he asks during breakfast, "Remember the Halloween video I watched when I was eight? They played 'Young Folks' on that video."

No. I do not remember the Halloween video. I do not remember him ever paying more than five minutes of attention to any video whatsoever at age eight. I do not remember the song from a video I do not remember.

But I do remember that he is always right about these things. It gives me some insight into the way he thinks, that a song from long ago could so lodge itself in his brain that he was able to access it nine years later when he had another piece to go with it.

I don't need to tell you that autism is on the rise, as high as 1 in 50 boys will be diagnosed with it. The young folks today ain't the young folks of yesterday. There's no telling where the world will be when we put to use the specialized brains of these people.

Imagine the possibilities.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I might have to call TFBS on Brene Brown's claim, after all. I'm not sure I can get behind her statement that if you can't ask for help, your giving comes with judgment.

Some of my friends and readers have made some compelling arguments - many of us used to  ask for help, but the help came with too high a price, or we were let down, the problem made bigger, the help not helpful, the disappointment greater than the cost of going without the help.

We've been burned by "help."

Did I tell you about my hairdresser? She had this freak accident and ended up tearing her meniscus in her left knee, as well as really chewing up the bottom of her big toe. Walking was very painful and standing on her feet (which she does all day) was awful. She improvised, she brought in a chair to sit on, she got a brace, she did what she could. She met with her psychic friend, and the psychic said, "You injured your left side because the left side is our receptive side. You must learn to receive."

Every other hair dresser in the salon, as well as the receptionist, had offered to help. "Let me know if you need any help!" they said. She didn't "let them know," and eventually they just set about creating a system for her to reduce, if not eliminate, her going back and forth in the salon all day. Eventually, she conceded to the need for surgery, and they called all her clients and rescheduled everyone that was booked during the week she'd need to take off, and helped with the overflow.

She received.

I think at least half of the problem in the giving game is receiving help, not just asking for it. If I have judgments about giving, that's where they are - in my worthiness to receive. My judgments come in the form of deciding what others that offer help, can and cannot manage, and what is and is not too trivial, mundane and silly to even bother them with. I've got Nancy buying me things at Costco when she goes, and a friend ordering wine at wholesale prices for me. I feel guilty each time.

Guilty? What did I "do?" They offered, I accepted. I need a little judgement about that dynamic.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Judgmental Giving

I don't know if you caught the Oprah's Lifeclass with Brene Brown, or know of Dr. Brene Brown's work, but I am a big fan. She said something that really has me thinking, and I'm paraphrasing, but the essence was, if you can't ask for help, that's because you have a judgment about what help is and who needs it. Therefore, when you give, you are always giving with judgment.

At first I thought about all the ways she was wrong, and then I realized that was just a defense mechanism, because she's so right. At the very least, we judge giving help as good, and asking for help as bad.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

And That's the Truth with Dan Pallotta

This is a great interview with Dan Pallotta, conducted by none other than my dear friend, Terry. I watched Dan's TED Talk, and like Terry says in this interview, I, too, realized I held a common bias - that non-profits should have low overhead. If you share that bias, I would encourage you to watch his compelling arguments to the contrary.

A couple points in the interview particularly struck me, the first one being the misunderstanding that people that are gay and come out, do it once and are done with it. "Sometimes I come out four times in one week," Dan says. He gave the example of how he and his partner are raising triplets, and a cab driver recently asked him how his wife felt about having triplets. He could have side stepped it, he could have lied, but he came out to the cab driver because not only was that more authentic, it held more integrity for his family.

As a special-needs mom, I feel like my "coming out" days are increasing. I am not saying it's the same thing, don't get me wrong, but what I am saying, is it struck a chord with me when Dan said that. More and more I'm getting casual comments and questions about what my 17-year-old will be doing after high school, and more and more I'm torn between being honest, kind, full of integrity, and also self- preservation. There is just so much energy one has for this type of thing.

Dan is an accomplished man, and at one point in the interview Terry steals a famous STM line, "You're not watching enough TV, as 'they' say!" she tells him. I love that she has morphed STM into "they" and I love that she used it. STM and I use that expression a lot (I think I've even blogged about it), because there was a day (and by "day," I mean decades) where we, too, were not watching enough TV. We were doing/going/moving and shaking all the live long day.

No more.

These days we are watching plenty of TV, which brings me to another interesting point Dan made. "Look at your calendar and see what is on it that makes you excited - what are you looking forward to, and do more of that. Follow your passion."

These days, what gives me endless delight is looking at a calendar, and finding at least one day in the week that doesn't have much on it at all, and if it does, it's something like, "change the beds." Put me in my house with great music and candles, and point me towards the laundry room, and I'm a happy, contented, if not blissful, woman. Give me a day like yesterday, where I was running around from sun up to sun down, scarfing Cliff Bars in the car and calling them breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I'm, shall we say, not a happy camper.

Following your bliss isn't always blissful. I do think we make things more complicated than they need to be, however, and if you're at all interested in simplifying, here's a great list of ways to get started.

So, be inspired, be encouraged, be provoked, and enjoy the interview!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Reading

Ok, just got back home after the reading, and my head is aswirl, but I'll take a stab at telling you about it. I won't share much about my friend's reading, other than to say it went all the way back to Christ and the crucifixion. Fascinating stuff. She said my friend, Susan, and I are "twin souls," souls created at the same time, and alternating teacher/leaner roles throughout many, many lifetimes.

My reading placed me in a past life where I danced along side, Lillie Langtry, one of King Edward's mistresses. I'd never heard of Lilly Langtry until today. She lived from 1953 - 1929, which means she was still alive when my dad was a young boy, and I can bet my bottom dollar, he knew all about her.

One thing that Marie said, we tend to reincarnate with the same cluster of souls over and over, which, I believe I've written about before. Often our parents, our spouse/partner and kids, are in our soul cluster. We take on different roles and genders, being parents to our parents, and kids to our kids, etc.

If you were to walk the planet believing you've been every color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, intellectual and class level before, wouldn't you walk the planet differently? But, I digress.

I guess not only was I a dancer in the past life that came through today, but in many, many past lives. Funny, because as a kid all I wanted to do was sing and dance on Broadway. I lacked absolutely everything necessary to do such a thing, so abandoned that dream long ago, but something stirred when she said that. Maybe I'll take a dance class. In the meantime, maybe I'll just dance with a broom in my kitchen to the tunes on Pandora. She also said I could "dance" psychologically and figuratively, not just literally.

She said I didn't come into this lifetime to learn anything in particular, but to have another human experience. That was different from being "on holiday," which some souls are, meaning they are taking a "bye" this lifetime from the suffering they've endured for many lifetimes, and are just coasting along this time, before resuming samsara. Later, when I told her I thought I'd come into this incarnation to provide a way for Wil to "volunteer" as a soul to help lead us out of this mess, she agreed, and then she went on to say many lovely things about my mothering that I'm too humble to repeat. She also warned me about letting people suck me dry, and how it was essential I recharge by being 100% alone. She was singing to the choir on those points, I've learned both the hard way.

We talked about the deja vu experience, and she said it's actually our subconscious knowing what's going to happen before it happens, so when it happens, it feels like it has happened before.

I did a past life regression before, and was, apparently, the most difficult to "put under" that this man had ever experienced. That used a hypnosis method by which I was asked to pull up past life memories. I'm not saying it wasn't real or even useful, but it was a big challenge for me. This experience was different, Marie held my hands on top of her outstretched ones, across the table. We each closed our eyes, and for 10-15 minutes she "had one foot on the other side" and shared what she saw.

She said the same thing I've heard over and over again, we all have the ability to use our left brains to see/hear/know things, it's a matter of being open, practicing, trusting, and developing that skill just like any other.

Blessings on all your lifetimes.


Monday, September 16, 2013


I have a dear friend, Susan, and we have a karmic connection. I don't know that for a fact but it certainly feels that way.

And, we're about to find out.

Susan has an incredible house and yard. She is generous with sharing both, and is often the host of lovely, if not magical, gatherings. She hosted my book launch, and that will live in my memory forever as one of the most love-filled nights of my life.

One hot morning last week, Susan had me over for espresso in French demitasse cups, with sugar cubes that had each of our initials on them. We drank water poured from a beautiful carafe into elegant stemware. We sat under a grape arbor at the perfect little table, with a beautiful, antique table cloth, ironed within an inch of its life. One reason I believe Susan and I have karma, is I am all about the, "Nothing fancy," and she is all about the, "Let's get FANCY! Life is for LIVING!" Her joie de vivre is contagious.

We had one of those glorious two-hour conversations that felt like two minutes. One of our most favorite things to talk about is spirituality. I shared my thoughts on reincarnation, and Susan was very open, but at the same time, a bit skeptical. We talked about a couple people that have come into our lives in such big and powerful ways, some briefly, some for the long haul, but the relationship's intensity defies the confines of this lifetime. To me, it only makes sense that it's past life stuff being picked up from where it left off, old lessons that haven't quite gotten to the finish line and are presented to us for another shot at it.

Susan texted today and said, "I know I'm breaking the no-call rule, but I just have to talk to you." I called. So glad I did. Susan was unable to shake our reincarnation conversation, and did some Googling. One thing led to another, just like it always does in a universe where there are no accidents, and she found a woman here in the area (sort of), that does past life readings.

Her name is Marie Friend. FRIEND of MARY! Come on. You have to go read that blog post of hers I just linked to, it's all about children (like Wil) that do NOT come back to continue on with the unfinished lessons from past lives, they come to help heal.

Susan called Marie right up on the phone and found she had openings coming up, she mentioned her friend (me) would probably want to come too, and Marie was all about making that happen. Long story short, they couldn't settle on a day that worked and then Marie said, "Well, I know it's short notice, but I could do tomorrow." As fate would have it, we were both able to slightly juggle (way less juggling than normal), and we are GOING TOMORROW!

Right after I got off the phone with Susan, I was thinking about some of the people that have come and gone from my life, and I put on Pandora. The song that was playing was one that always makes me think of such a person.

You go ahead and tell me that was an accident.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Removing All Obstacles

"I'm going to hit you cold with something," STM said to me in mid-August, "I think we should clear our Fridays at least until Thanksgiving, and get after the To Do list. I think we should also put on the To Do list, some things that are fun. We aren't having enough fun in our lives."

STM is self-employed, and has been for fifteen years. At times this has really come in handy in terms of  flexibility, and at times it's been a giant pain-in-the-who-ha (i.e. the five years he worked in the basement when I had two not-in-school-yet kids).

Because I am highly driven by a To Do list and derive endless frustration from watching it grow, I agreed. Sad, but the "fun" part was really just a bone I threw him.

For three Fridays now, we've taken the "day" (really, it ends up being the hours between 10-2), and tried to mix a little business with pleasure. For pleasure, we've test driven a car, had lunch, and done a little shoe shopping.

As I've said, we are trying to pick out new carpet. I think we're both gun shy because the carpet we chose last time, has been such a disaster, we don't trust our choice. I've now made two trips to the carpet store with knowledgeable friend/interior designer, two by myself, and two with STM. We are all over the map. I keep coming back to something similar to what we already have, and STM wants anything but.

Part of me is so deeply invested in what we choose, it's ridiculous, and part of me is so ready to have the decision made and behind us, I'm ready to just say, "Have at it. Get whatever you want."

It's carpet.

That tension between what I want, in the small sense, and what I WANT in a global sense, is ever-present.

Before taking off to go carpet shopping with STM yesterday, I popped in on my support group that meets one Friday morning a month during the school year. We hadn't seen each other since June, and I was anxious to hear the updates. I gave mine very quickly before I had to leave, and talked about the tension between wanting to really enjoy these two years I do have, with Wil in school full time, and not piss them away with anxiety about them coming to an end. By the same token, I can't sit back on my laurels, there are things, big things, to attend to.

One reason I probably spend way too much time obsessing about the carpet, is that it's way easier to focus on that, than the decisions I really need to make, that really make a difference.

I'm doing a 21-day mediation and today's mantra was, Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha, which is intended to remove all obstacles. I got up early today and relished in the fact that Wil had spent the night with my mom, so there was no bacon to fry, no Flicka to let out, no tapping, humming, singing, hyper start to my morning. I put my headphones on and settled deep into the meditation.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

I was well on my way to repeating the mantra 108 times, when my phone rang. It was Wil. It was also 6:32 AM. He wanted to button down every detail of the day, and in fact, the weekend. Which mass did we want to go to? What time did we want to go to Burgerville? Could we take Mike to Mike's Drive-In and get a milkshake? Mike's name is Mike so we should take him to Mike's. What about his Halloween costume? When will it arrive? We ordered it online, so when will it be here?

I got all his questions answered, took another sip of my now not-so-hot coffee, and put the headphones back on.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Wil texted. He made plans to go to the park at 9:00. He'd see me at 10:00.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Wil texted again, maybe he'd be home closer to 11:00.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.

Wil texted again. What time was I coming over to get Flicka for a walk?

I took off the headphones and gave up on meditating. The meditation was keeping me from being present and Wil was keeping me from meditating.

Removing all obstacles.

Monday, September 9, 2013


The school year is off and running, and not without its usual ups and downs. Somehow I always forget there will be bumps and overwhelm, exhaustion and readjustment, annoyances and redundancies, surprises good, and surprises bad. We here at the Link house, do not care so much for all that.

Wil will not wear a watch (anymore), and cannot have his cell phone on at school (totally understandable) and does not read conventional clocks easily. He carries on his person a pretty good-sized travel alarm clock, and that is his method for keeping himself on time. I triple checked that said alarm clock was in his backpack when we headed to the car. I did not see or hear him remove said alarm clock, from the backpack, and displace it in my car. I noticed only after I was back at home and stuck there, waiting to receive a package that requires a signature, that never came, and now is likely to screw up tomorrow, too, but that's another post.

Because said alarm clock was not in place, meds were not taken on time. Because meds were not taken on time, pretty much all hell broke loose. All that coupled with the surprises bad, redundancies, overwhelm, blah, blah and blah, let's just say that Beer O'Clock came early today.

Woohoo, too, is having her share of "issues," none of which are serious, but nevertheless taxing, tiring, frustrating and kind of a buzz kill. I will say this, Woohoo is at a great college, and to hear her talk about her classes and be excited about what she's learning, is a wonderful thing. STM and I went to perfectly fine colleges, but I think for at least the first two years, we simply took classes because we had to, and we just checked them off. We weren't engaged (one of mine was "taught" on television), we certainly weren't inspired, and we definitely weren't excited.

On a completely different note, I had plans to have coffee with my cousin Nancy today. In the middle of the night Saturday I sat bolt upright in bed, and realized I could not meet her for coffee, because I had to be home waiting for the package-that-never-came. Long story short, she came to me, and I invited my mom (her aunt) to join us. The three of us had a lovely time.

True confession: I hesitated having Nancy come to my house, because our carpet in the living room is so old/dirty/stained/trashed, and we are in the process of picking new carpet. Because we're so actively in this process, the existing carpet's flaws are in flashing neon to me. Nancy actually said these words to me during her visit, "Did you get new carpet?" My mom, too, seemed surprised when I mentioned to her why the samples were all up against the wall. She thought our carpet was just great.

The truth is, our carpet is not just great. Our carpet was cheap to begin with and we've put it through hell.

The truth is, our carpet is just great. To the casual observer it does what it needs to do, it covers the floor, it's warm under the feet, and with enough carefully placed furniture, it's "fine."

The truth is, so much of what is wrong, right, in need of fixing or just fine, is a matter of perspective. One (me) gets too close to the situation and looses all perspective. Sometimes the smartest thing to do is crack a beer and call it a day - a day like all days, with its highs and with its lows.


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...