Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Plato Was Right

"Be kind, for everyone you meet
is fighting a hard battle."
- Plato

Over and over I hear from people that have read the book, "I just never knew all that." Often this comes from people I really do know, and they really do know me, they just didn't know the depth of what we experienced, and felt about what we experienced. By the same token, I don't know the depth of what they have experienced, or felt about what they've experienced, either. There are just so many hours in a day and so much time allowed for socializing, the reality is, we only "know know" a handful of people well, and that is if we are very, very blessed.

I think if any one of us wrote a memoir, no matter what our situation, we'd blow everyone away. And that is because Plato was right - everyone is fighting a hard battle. Everyone.

I just came back from my "talk" with the students getting their Master's in social work. Really neat experience. The teacher is a woman I only really know on the outer periphery, but Wil loves and adores her son, and he has been a huge angel in our lives. We agreed the thing to do was have her interview me using questions she thought were pertinent to what they've been talking about in class, then have questions and answers. The hour flew by - felt like five minutes. I will say, I was struck by how unique our story is, and how, unfortunately, different it will probably be for most of the people they work with and serve. STM and I have resources - we're not millionaires but if our children have needed it, we've been able to provide it. There have been sacrifices, but nothing you can really put into the True Sacrifice category. Wil is well-loved. We have extended family. We have a huge and ever-growing community that has rallied around us. I have not had to work outside the home, and have had the luxury of making Wil my full-time job, not my full-time job on top of my full-time job, like so many other mothers/parents of kids with special needs. We've had choices and opportunities many don't have. Really, we're best-case scenario, and that was almost awkwardly and ashamedly obvious as I blathered on to the class today.

Still, they were warm and receptive and even said I was "inspirational." I hope so. They are inspirational to me, incredible people that want to go out and make a big difference in the lives of those that need them to.

Journey mercies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What I Love About You

Still celebrating my birthday in a big way, and loving every minute of it. Yesterday I got together with two of my dear friends from college, Marcy and Ann. Ann is probably the reason I joined not just a sorority, but our sorority. She literally met me at the door on the first day of rush, gave me a tour of the house, and it was love at first sight. We talked about that yesterday, in fact, we just had that cool, rare and wonderful oh-there-you-are-again-I-knew-you-from-our-last-lifetimes kind of connection. Marcy is the one that looked me in the eye when I was floundering around in my non-declared major and said, "You are supposed to be a teacher."

Two big angels in my life that arrived over 30 years ago, and are still actively blessing me now. Amazing.

Marcy's husband recently turned 50, also. She decided to make him a 50 Things I Love About You list, on top of all his other presents and celebrations. I asked if it was hard to come up with 50.

"It was easy I had to stop and then cross some off to make room for bigger ones, the list could have been longer!" she said. "Now, whenever I get annoyed, I just think, remember the list. It's been life changing!"

I love that idea and everything about that idea. I know that what we water, grows, but I appreciated the reminder.

Here's a little What I Love About You List for you, dear blog readers:

1. I love that you read this blog

2. I love that many of you have read it for almost 7 years now

3. I love that you are patient with me when I'm going through my many phases

4. I love that you cry with me, laugh with me, rejoice with me and pray with me

5. I love that you are invested in my family and me

6. I love that e-mail me when something I write strikes a chord

7. I love that you set me straight when I am way off base

8. I love that you're reading/talking about/recommending/buying/giving the book

9. I love that you teach me new things

10. I love that you love.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Open Doors

The fun part continues! Turns out talking about myself just never gets boring. I have a couple "gigs" coming up that I'm excited about, and partly because they are pushing me beyond my comfort zone. I like my comfort zone. I am, basically, all about staying within the comfort zone, but I am stepping out a bit and finding that to be both terrifying and fun, too, in a I-could-just-barf-right-now kind of way.

I'm going to talk to a bunch of people getting their Master's in social work. Actually, I am not really going to "talk to" them as much as answer their questions. I am no expert on social services, in fact, we've barely used any. The focus is going to be more on community and the value of that. Since that is one of my favorite things to discuss, I am looking forward to it.

I am also going to meet with a group of people from my mom's church, that are studying the book, Living Gently in a Violent World as part of their Lenten journey. It is co-written by Jean Vanier who founded the L'Arche communities. STM and I are very interested in creating something similar for Wil when the time comes. Ideally, we would like Wil to live in community with typical peers, as well as those with a variety of differences and ages. Don't think for a minute we haven't already been "taking meetings" about this.

I don't know how much longer this will last, or where, if anywhere, it will lead, but for now, when a door opens, I'm walking through it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interview with the Truth Teller

 Meet Daniel and Greg

And of course you know these two, Terry and Carrie

Just got back from Philly where I had my annual trip to see Terry. This time, however, it was a "business" trip. We filmed what will be a trailer for WIL OF GOD. We did a 30-minute interview that will appear on Terry's site, parts of which will be turned into a trailer by the multi-gifted Greg Koorhan. I'm so excited, and it was so much fun! I love talking about the book. I love talking to Terry. It was a big time win:win.

Terry also hosted her book club at her house while I was there, and they had all just read WIL OF GOD. Really a wonderful experience to discuss it with women that lead very different lives than I, but yet we had so many big things in common.

On the way home I intentionally had a long layover in Minneapolis/St. Paul so I could have lunch with my agent, Laurie Harper. The perfect ending to the perfect trip! Now I'm home for awhile - no more gallivanting!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Grossly Unremarkable

I've had weird symptoms in my abdomen for months, actually, more like years. I'll spare you all the details except to say I am fine. It's kind of like the $1,000 sliver of soap, a whole lot of money spent finding out I'm fine. I've never been happier to "waste" my money.

I think that those of us raising special needs children fear our mortality more than most - and those of us turning 50, realize it's not an if, it's a when. I'm sure a lot of my aches and pains were stress-related, and the more I feared I was dying, the worse I felt. (Fear makes everything worse.)

Because one particular sensation was in the pancreas area, I went into full-board panic. Problems with the pancreas are never good, and often very, very bad. I had made rash and catastrophic assumptions every time I felt a twinge. Finally went for an abdominal ultrasound and got the results on Tuesday. My pancreas is "grossly unremarkable." Under any other circumstances those two words paired together would infuriate me, but they were music to my ears.

So, I will have to find something else to worry about, which shouldn't be a problem. I have a waiting list.

May you all have grossly unremarkable organs, too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

If you're not sick of talking about THE BOOK yet, then go here for an interview I did with my friend Kari!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lenten Journey

Today is Ash Wednesday. Faithful followers of this blog know that Wil does not like Ash Wednesday for two, now three, distinct reasons: 1) He does not like things smudged on his forehead 2) He does not like having to withhold "Alleulia" from his vocabulary for 40 days and now 3) The cafeteria doesn't serve pepperoni pizza (only cheese) on Fridays during Lent.

Nonetheless, we enter into a period of reflection today, and who can't use a round of that? My PR manager (liz) thinks everyone and their mother ought to read my book for Lent, as part of their Lenten journey. That's giving me way more credit (and pressure) than is due, but I do appreciate it.

My mom and I had a great conversation about my book - perhaps one of the biggest blessings to have come from all this. I told her that my cousin, Julie, had said I wrote because it was the only way I could get people in my family to listen to me. My mom then said that thinks most people feel they are misunderstood. For my birthday she gave me this, which her father had given to her a long, long time ago:

Maybe, as part of each of our Lenten journeys, we can work towards listening to each other better, judging each other less, and ultimately, understanding each other more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The $1,000 Sliver of Soap

Right before we went to Hawaii, I went on a mad cleaning spree. I knew others were going to be sleeping in my bed, using my bathroom, and all of that. Decided the sliver of soap in the shower needed to get replaced with a nice, fresh bar (typically, we use our slivers until they disappear). Tossed that puppy in the wastebasket, and the next day emptied that wastebasket. Thought I was all done ever thinking of that sliver of soap.


Got to Hawaii and our first full day there got a text from the vet (how do you not love that the vet is a friend, and texts you). He had Flicka in with him, apparently she'd been up night vomiting. She'd been so weak and dehydrated she couldn't stand or walk, and liz had to call him and have him come to the house, carry the 65 pound dog down the stairs, into his car, and take her to work with him.

He texted us updates, as he knew we were about to hop the next plane back to Portland when we heard our third (and favorite) child was ill. He thought she might have some scary disease, so he ran a bunch of tests, but fortunately, they were all negative. Turns out, sweet Flicka had eaten that sliver of soap, in it's entirety and without a trace, and it took a couple days to make her super sick.

Of course we were thrilled she doesn't have a terrible disease. Of course we were thrilled the vet is a friend and took exceptional and personal above-and-beyond care of her. Of course we are thrilled she is happy and well and our trip continued as planned. Still, that was one mighty expensive sliver of soap, and let me assure you, all wastebaskets are up and out of her reach and will remain so.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I've been saying for years that my next phone would be an iPhone. I've done just fine with a basic phone, and actually, how much I knew I'd love an iPhone, was one of the reasons I held off getting one. I needed another addiction/distraction/access to e-mail/Facebook/etc. like I needed a hole in my head.

But. A girl only turns 50 once, and it's hardly fair that STM has one and I don't, and so, I told him that's what I wanted for my big birthday (on top of the trip to Hawaii - 50 has made me greedy). I marched myself into Verizon the second they opened on Tuesday of last week, got a great gal that set me all up, and 41 minutes later walked up with my synced up, contacts-ready 4S. I didn't want the 5, but I did want Siri. You see, I do not have a poor sense of direction, I have no sense of direction. Plus, I had heard Siri could do anything, and I wanted to put her to work.

Because Wil loves to touch my phone and change it all around, switching my ring tones, silencing it when I most need to hear it, screwing around with my contacts, etc., I had to lay down some ground rules. "Wil, you may NOT touch my new iPhone. Ever. In turn, I will not touch Paddy (his iPad). Ever. I will simply never lay another hand on it, but you have to promise not to ever lay a hand on my new phone, which I will allow you to name."

"Theresa," he announced.

"Wonderful, Teresa she is. Deal?"

He agreed, and so far, has kept his hands off Teresa. He did make me turn off the locking and keyboard  clicks, as those drove him crazy, and I'm liking the silence myself.

I forgot to get a little lesson on how to use Siri, and when I got home, discovered I hadn't a clue. I knew it had to be SUPER simple, but still, couldn't figure it out. So, I Facebooked one of Wil's former peer assistants that is now in college and works part-time for Apple. He walked me right through it (and as you all must know, it was beyond simple). Then he gave me a few extra little 4S tips and sent me his cell number so I could text him any time with future urgent matters.

Then, even after my walk-through, I couldn't make Siri work. No matter how many times I pushed that Home button, we just weren't communicating. Here's the shocker, and the moral of the story (and all stories): I was making it harder than it needed to be.

So. I've already learned a valuable life lesson, and Theresa isn't even a week old. Can't wait to see what I learn from her next.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Fun Part

Turns out, selling and distributing THE BOOK is a whole lot more fun than writing it! I'm having a ball signing my name like I'm "somebody," putting it in mailers, dropping it off on porches, and even taking a few to Wil's favorite yogurt shop for them to sell. How about that? It's going to be available at our church's Parish Center, too! A dream come true!

In fact, maybe the biggest dream to come true of all, is the overwhelmingly loving response from the "holy elders" in our church. I hoped, I prayed, and then I worried, while writing the book. I wanted my bumpy and reluctant journey to Catholicism to be respectful to those "cradle Catholics" I knew would read it. I hoped, at the bare minimum, they would be "ok" with it. To have them stop me on the street, send me notes in the mail, drop by the house and tell me how much they were moved by it, then wanting to buy more for all their friends, has been an amazing blessing.

I had one woman bring me a Mani stone with Om Mani Padme Hung written on it. She wrote a note saying she's been a Catholic for 76 years, but keeps a bodhisattva garden. She wanted to give this to me for mine. I cried on the spot.

I had a woman, 89-years-old that I've known all my life, and has known my mother almost all of her life, write me the most incredible letter about what the book meant to her. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that response.

Thank you to all of you that have bought/downloaded the book! Thank you to those that have left incredible Amazon reviews. Thank you to those that have invited me to their book clubs. Thank you to all of you for being my faithful readers and supporters these last seven years!!


P.S. Portlanders - my book is available at Wallace Books, too!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Not Getting Older...

Wil and I are in the kitchen after dinner. He's playing iHeartRadio on his iPad, and has it on the oldies channel. Song after song comes up and he asks, "Do you know this one?" I answer yes to James Taylor, Elton John and Smokey Robinson.

"How do you know all these songs?" he asks.

"Because they're old songs, and I'm old," I answer.

"You're not that old," he says,"you're only 50. Actually, you're only 49."

"Well, you're right, but that's getting up there," I say.

"Do you want to stay at 49, or are you ready to move up?" he asks.

I decide I'm ready to move up. I'm not ready to get old, but I'm definitely ready to move up.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


We've had a great trip! We are at that point where you're about to leave, you're packing up, checking the room for things you forgot to put in your suitcase (razor, shampoo you brought from home), it's not quite time to check out, but there's really not enough time to do anything else, and you're already missing the place you are at the moment.

We've loved our time on Kauai - it's changed in the 21 years since we were last here, but not that much. We wanted quiet and rural, and that's what we got. We came during the rainy season and got nothing but one gorgeous sunny, 75 degree day after another. It was never warm enough in the room to need the air conditioner, and we loved sleeping with the sliding glass door wide open, listening to the ocean all night.

We watched the sunsets.

We went for a power walk each morning.

We spent hours looking at this view from our balcony.

And being good Catholics, we even went to Mass at St. Raphael's, the oldest Catholic church on Kauai. STM noticed the windows, how the circles depict the Last Supper. We had a great time trying to figure out who were the locals, and who were the tourists.

But most of our days were spent right here. In our favorite lounge chairs, with our 50 SPF sun block, hats, glasses, and shirts. Despite our efforts to be in the sun and not get burned, we did. But not too badly. When you're white-as-ghosts-Portlanders, what can you expect?

We're not ready but ready to come back. It's been just the right length of time, always go home wishing you could stay one more day, that's what I say.

Tomorrow we'll be back to the real world, which, after having a week to step back from and reflect upon, is pretty darn good.

We are blessed and grateful. Mahalo!


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...