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!"

Sorry Not Sorry

I'm sorry I keep pointing you towards BrenĂ© Brown's podcast,  Unlocking Us , but I'm not that  sorry.* I've appreciated ever...