Friday, March 29, 2013

The Godfather


We have had plans for weeks to get together with Wil's former Resource Room teacher and her husband, during Spring Break. I knew, but he didn't, that they wanted to ask him to be a godfather to their first child, who will be born in July (or late June). They were also asking Jack, and if you've read the book (THANK YOU), you know that Jack and Wil go together like salt and pepper, so it made all the sense in the world that if you asked one, you'd for sure want the other one, too. Two holier godfathers you'd be hard pressed to find.

My friend, Amy, texted earlier in the day to see if we could meet for yogurt. I told her no-can-do, we had big about-to-be-a--godfather plans. She wondered what Wil's response would be, and I told her, "Prepare to be underwhelmed." I also warned the teacher and her husband not to get their hopes up that he'd be excited, and that he might, in fact, say no. Regardless, I knew he would be delighted and be a wonderful godfather, so I coached them to not take his response to heart, if in fact it was less than satisfying.

We ate our yogurt, when Wil was on his second gigantic bowl, they whipped out a card and handed it to Wil. He opened it, actually read it, then said, "CARE? DO YOU HAVE A PEN? HAND ME A PEN!"

He then wrote down 13 yeses before handing the card back to them. "Yes," he said, with a huge dimpled grin on his face, "yes, I will be your baby's godfather!"

He's already talking about the Baptism and how he will sing and lead the choir. That baby will be alleluia-ing it before it can properly talk. Mark my words.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Triduum


Today is Holy Thursday, the first in a three-day period of prayer leading to Easter, called the Triduum. Tonight will be the washing of the feet and the Last Supper. Tomorrow will be the veneration of the cross, and Saturday night will be the Easter Vigil, a three-hour spectacular event that is one of the few things for which I stay up past my bedtime.

I'm excited.

This year I am a Eucharistic Minister for Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil. I am deeply honored to serve communion at such important Masses - Masses that celebrate Jesus' message: love.

My friend, Michelle O'Neil wrote a beautiful blog post this morning about just that, Jesus and his message of love - how the real story is the resurrection, and that no matter what, love cannot be killed.

That's worth celebrating.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Gap


I have really been enjoying Deepak and Oprah's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. Even though we are in the final week, it's not too late to catch up! I am noticing subtle yet positive shifts in myself, as a result. The biggest is a calmer, less anxious, less rushed feeling going through the day. Also, when something falls/breaks/spills/doesn't work, I am shocked to discover an oh, well! response, instead of a string of expletives.

Deepak talks about the gap between our thoughts, and how that is where pure consciousness lives. The goal being to spend more moments in/with/embracing the gap. You are only aware you were in the gap, when you are leaving the gap because when you are in the gap, you, by definition, don't know/think it. I have occasionally experienced that during meditation, but am more likely to do so when doing something, literally, mindless, like ironing. I do love to iron. Give me a 100% cotton table cloth, a hot iron full of water and some spray starch, and watch me go to town, while my mind goes... nowhere.

Truly, there's nowhere I'd rather be.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

His Bad Side

Wil came home in quite the mood yesterday. He felt someone was taking advantage of him - not respecting his boundaries. Of course, those were not his words. His words went a little more like this: "CARE! DO YOU SEE THIS?" he turns around and points to his non-existent butt, "THIS IS MY BAD SIDE! THIS SEXY THING RIGHT HERE IS MY BAD SIDE, AND YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET ON MY BAD SIDE!"

He then ranted and raved for upwards of an hour, first to me, then to STM, then to both of us, then back to me, then back to STM. He told me he was going to call this person and straighten the whole thing out, I urged him to wait until he calmed down. Instead, he went upstairs, got on his iPad, Facetimed the person, and MIRACULOUSLY ENOUGH, very calmly and gently told this person what would and would not be happening in the future.

He came back down yelling again, "CARE! I TOLD THEM! I WAS POLITE! BUT I TOLD THEM!"

Self advocacy? Check, check.

Behavior modification? Check, check.

Appropriate response to boundary breaking? Check, check.

Knowing how to establish and maintain a boundary? Check, check.

Venting to a safe person(s) while remaining polite and kind to the person in question? Check, check.

His bad side ain't all bad.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Blast from the Past

 My picture and "story"


Cover


Geary's page

Gregg's page



You gotta love Facebook. How else would you ever hear from your friend, Gregg, that you haven't seen since grade school? I got a friend request from him, and I immediately accepted. I knew exactly who he was the minute I saw his name. You know how those first grade memories are burned in your brain like no other?

Gregg has a twin brother, Geary, I had both in my classes. Not only that, Gregg and Geary have twin younger SISTERS, and also an older brother. How do you forget a family with two sets of twins? So, not only did that mother of five live to tell the tale, she kept scrapbooks for each! Gregg found his first grade directory with all our phone numbers and addresses in it - he remembers our teacher, Mrs. Whitlock, giving us the directory as a reward for memorizing our addresses and phone numbers. He freaked me out by "remembering" my parents' names and our address from 44 years ago, then he confessed he was cheating.

I told Gregg I could put my hands on my first grade book the class made me after I brought my bird, Friday, for show and tell. Of all the things I've tossed through all the years and moves, that has always survived. It's as valuable to me now as it was then. I remember how special  it made me feel, and who knows how that played into me being an elementary teacher? My handwriting has changed very little in all these years, and really, I'm still that little girl.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Re-Evaluation

We are in the middle of Wil's 3-year re-eval. Fortunately, it just never gets old filling out the millions of forms outlining in excruciating detail, all the things he didn't do, can't do, and is likely never to do.

I recently met a woman who told me her daughter is now 27, and she "grew out of her autism." Call me skeptical, but I don't think so. Learned to adapt? Yes. Matured? Yes. Gained skills? Yes. Found a job that perfectly suits her unique set of challenges and talents? Yes. (Of all things, she's a massage therapist.) Grew out of autism? No.

To me, the whole re-evaluation process is just one giant jumping-through-the-hoops. It's a huge waste of time, money and human resources. He qualifies. Handily. Ask any of the 17 assistants it takes to get him through a week. Ask any of his 7 teachers. Ask his parents. Ask his sister. Ask anyone that's had more than a one-minute conversation with him. He qualifies. Can we just check some box, sign and move on? No.

I will say this, I have gotten better about being less triggered by the whole thing. I'm choosing to look at it as a nuisance, and not as a stressor. I guess, if anything, the re-evaluation process has been a chance for me to re-evaluate my relationship with autism and where we are today with it. We are where we are.  We will continue to pave the way for Wil, to advocate, to design and implement plans for his future, but we are really all done with trying to change the fact that he has a pervasive developmental disability.

He just does.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Holy Elders


If I live to be a hundred, I'll never forget last Thursday. I was blessed beyond belief to be in a circle of the most holy women you'd ever hope to come across. Right before THE BOOK was released, I almost had a full-blown panic attack in the communion line. I looked around and thought, What if my community hates this book? What if they reject me? What if, God forbid, they are offended by my kicking-and-screaming road to Catholicism?

By far the biggest surprise and blessing has been that the opposite has been true. In particular, the group Kathleen and I call the Holy Elders has embraced it/me. Like I said, this is the fun part. It's more than fun, though, it's, well, to overuse a word one can't really use enough, it's "holy."

My friend Meghan hosted us at her beautiful home and the one and only "the liz" gathered the women, the mood, the energy and the vibe that we will all be riding for quite some time.

I bring you the story in pictures, totally out of order, but you'll get the idea, and hopefully, the ju-ju:











Alleulia!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Plus Love


It has become law tradition that on Saturdays we pick up Nancy at 11:30, go to Burgerville for four "dry" original hamburgers (which Wil then pours his own gross amount of ketchup on), then go to yogurt. Sometimes we drag Nancy on a "must do" errand, such as yesterday. Wil "needed" more shampoo. Never mind that he had two half bottles on his own special shelf in the shower, he was "low" and this was not working for him.

Yesterday Wil went to the dog park because it was warm and sunny, and he and every other person alive in Portland fled the confines of their home and got themselves outside. He kept texting me with an update on what time he'd get back home, making it later and later and later. He was cutting it close if we were to get Nancy at 11:30. When he finally got home he told me he'd arranged for us to meet another family for yogurt at 12:00. That, of course, flipped our whole plan around, landing us at Burgerville after yogurt and rushing our all-important trip to Bi-Mart for the shampoo. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - I don't like my plans getting changed at the last minute, and I do NOT like being rushed!

When we'd checked off everything on the list but the burgers, we sat down and waited for our order to be brought to us. Wil's came with love. All four burgers were marked, "Dry + Love." Nancy and I both whipped out our iPhones to photograph the awesome occurrence. Wil, assuming and knowing that everything that comes to him comes with love, just got started eating.

Love.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Flowing


"All sorrows can be borne if you tell
a story about them."
- Karen Blixen


If I've learned nothing else, I've learned that the writing process can, and in my opinion should, be healing. I get asked a lot how I found time to write the book, and how do I have the attitude that I do. Well, you patient blog readers know it took a long, long time to write the book, and the attitude comes and goes. There are good days and bad days.

Yesterday was a good day. Tuesday was a bad day. Wil came home all fired up on Tuesday, he was "stressed out." He is so ready for Spring Break and really, summer, and really, really, for his formal education to be over. The social aspects of school delight him, the actual learning parts? Not so much. Anyway, we gave him a few pep talks, sent off a few e-mails, and tried to pave the way for Wednesday being a better day. 

I picked him up from school yesterday, he was all smiles. Threw his backpack on the floor of the car, scooted Flicka over so he could sit next to her in the backseat, and said, "Let's go to yogurt!"

As we were sitting at our favorite yogurt place, him enjoying his second gigantic bowl, in walked our friend, Mike. Mike had been going to the nearby post office, but saw us and came in to visit. Mike asked Wil, "How's school?"

"It's flowing, Mike!" Wil said, convincingly.

"That's great!" Mike said.

"Yep, it's just flowing along," Wil said.

Not enough can be made of going with the flow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Somehow This Ties Together

Had the weirdest dream last night: I was supposed to pick up Cheryl Strayed's daughter, Bobbi, from daycare. In the dream she was about two (I think she's about seven now). I picked her up, we were reading a picture book together, then Bobbi wanted to run back into the daycare (we were outside in the hall) and give the picture book back to her teacher. I stayed in the hall while she did that. I moved ever so slightly from my spot by the door, but was still where I "couldn't miss her" when she came back out. Time went by and I started to panic, I went into the daycare and they said she wasn't there. I searched the "hall" and all the surrounding areas, and eventually found her safe and sound in some weird doorway that made no sense, even then in the dream. I then had to go back into the daycare and tell them that I found Bobbi, by then Cheryl was there and she was none too happy I'd lost her daughter, as well you can imagine.

On a completely different note, I am now obsessed with The Long Island Medium. If you haven't "met" Theresa Caputo, do yourself a favor and do so immediately. She is it on a stick. She reminds me of my friend Terry Whitkaker, not in how they look or sound, but in their essence. The both have magnetic personalities, and being with them there is never a dull moment. And no accidents that they are both named Theresa (with a "h"). STM and I have taken to DVR-ing Long Island Medium and cranking out an episode or two at night. We both tear up every time. The comfort Theresa brings to those that have lost a loved one, is something to behold. I never questioned that those that have left the physical world are still with us as Spirit. If you're the least bit unsure of this, 30-minutes with Theresa will set you straight.

I'm not sure how all this ties together but everything does, so this must, too. I guess I'm getting messages from Spirit through my dreams.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Odds and Ends

THINGS YOU DON'T KNOW AND REALLY, REALLY SHOULD:

1.  I just learned how to use Pandora on both my computer and iPhone (Theresa).

2. Pandora is it on a stick. I am trying not to bemoan the fact that I've wasted all these years living a life without it. If you are living a life with Pandora, drop what you're doing and rectify that situation immediately.

3. Wil is now 5'11" and when I am applying Clearasil to his face at night, I have to reach so high I nearly need a step-stool. While I am dabbing, he looks into my eyes with the most pure and adoring face you've ever seen on a human angel.

4. I am obsessed with the song, "Holy" by Annabelle Chvostek, in particular the lyrics, "There is nothing to attain, there is only letting go." I mean, come on, have you ever heard anything more profound?

5. I had to take my car to DEQ yesterday. I must share with you the proud moment when I was overcome with gratefulness that A) the line was short, B) my 16-year-old car passed with flying colors, C) I found the place easily (despite having been there a million times, this is never a given), D) I could pay the ridiculous $143 and not have it cause a hardship for us. This is what we like to call "progress."

6. If you're still here and not signing up for Pandora, go there now.